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Met refers itself to police watchdog after royal fan detained for 13 hours

Alice Chambers’ arrest captured on Sky News coverage of the coronation  (Sky News )
Alice Chambers’ arrest captured on Sky News coverage of the coronation (Sky News )

The Met and Lincolnshire Police have referred themselves to the police watchdog after a royal fan was arrested and held for 13 hours during the King’s coronation.

Australian architect Alice Chambers, 36, was detained in a cell at Wandsworth Police Station after being arrested on The Mall on the morning of May 6.

She had arrived early to catch a glimpse of King Charles and was unknowingly standing close to Just Stop Oil protesters.

She told the i that she waited in police custody until 7pm on the day of the coronation before officers interviewed her and discovered her innocence.

The Met expressed “regret” over the arrest last week after a wave of criticism from MPs and activists including anti-monarchy Republic CEO Graham Smith, who himself was arrested on May 6 and then released.

On Wednesday the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it had received a referral from the Met.

It told the Standard: “Following a review into the circumstances of an arrest of a woman on the Mall on Saturday, 6 May, the Met has made a voluntary referral to the IOPC who are now carrying out an assessment.”

An IOPC spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have received voluntary complaint referrals from Lincolnshire Police and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) following the arrest of a woman in the Mall, London, SW1, who was attending the King’s Coronation on 6 May.

“The referrals relate to her arrest by a Lincolnshire officer and subsequent detention by the MPS. We are currently assessing the referrals to determine whether further action may be required from us.”

The force on Friday said that the officer who made the arrest was on “mutual aid” from Lincolnshire Police, and Ms Chambers’ initial complaint was referred there.

“Police arrested a group of people in The Mall who we believe had the intention of disrupting the coronation,” the Met said in a statement on Friday.

“Unfortunately, the woman was among those arrested. She was released subsequently with no further action.

“Officers involved in the safety and security operation acted on information available to them. We regret that she was not able to watch the Coronation.

“Officers have spoken with her to explain our decisions and the next steps.”

Ms Chambers told the i newspaper that she had been arrested on suspicion of potential to cause a breach of the peace around 9am along with a dozen others, in a moment captured by Sky News cameras. She wasn’t released until 10pm, she said.

“I went to get up and two police officers just grabbed me and handcuffed me. I don’t think they said anything, I think they arrested me before they asked a question,” she told the i.

“I feel like once I was in the system they didn’t listen, I tried to explain that I wasn’t part of the group.”

The Met has also expressed “regret” over the arrest of six Republic protesters who were then released without charge.

But on Wednesday a top Met officer denied the force was under any political pressure.

Metropolitan Police Temporary Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist told MPs: “I felt under no pressure politically, I felt pressure to deliver a safe and secure operation.”

Giving evidence on efforts to police the coronation, he told the Commons Home Affairs Committee: “We are continually balancing the rights of those who seek to protest with those who are impacted by it.”

Chief Constable Chris Noble, the protest lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “There is no presumption against protest, it is actually quite the opposite.”

A total of 64 people were arrested on the day of the coronation.