Protesters blocked from Commons

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Police have clashed with disability rights protesters trying to get into the House of Commons chamber during Prime Ministers’ Questions.

In noisy scenes in Westminster’s Cental Lobby police lined up outside the entrance to the chamber to stop the protesters, including around 10 in wheelchairs, from getting in.

One woman was led away by police as she tried to get into the chamber.

Another protester, Mary Johnson, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said: “We tried to get down there because the Government needs to listen. We tried to get into the chamber but we were stopped by police.”

She said she witnessed one protester being “dragged away by police” claiming officers’ behaviour was “disgusting” and that they had been “pushing wheelchairs around”.

The protesters were from a group called Disabled People Against Cuts which is campaigning against the end of the Independent Living Fund.

Around 30 police officers packed into Central Lobby, forming a human barrier to prevent access to the Commons chamber where David Cameron was answering MPs’ questions.

Paula Peters, from the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac), said the protesters were “desperate” and accused police of a “heavy handed” response.

Speaking outside Parliament, Ms Peters said: “Over 30 people, disabled activists, independent living fund users and Dpac members, have gone in, they made a rush for the House of Commons doors. Police threw themselves on them to stop them from doing that.”

She said the activists would stay inside Parliament “for as long as they can”.

“A lot of these guys have very severe impairments, wheelchairs with their equipment, who are facing down police officers,” she said.

They “feel they have got no other choice but to take this kind of action” because “this Government is refusing to listen to what disabled people have to say on this issue”.

“The only option we have left before the fund closes is to take this form of action, this peaceful, non-violent direct action,” she said.

“They have got nothing else left to lose, they have lost it all already. They are desperate, they are frightened for their future, they feel they have got no future and they are prepared to take this action to show to the world that they are not going to run from the Government, from a fight.

“They are prepared to fight for their rights with everything they have.”

Published: Wednesday 24th June 2015 by The News Editor

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