Oxford student recieves four-figure police payout for water bottle arrest debacle
October 2008, OXFORD – Jonathan Leighton, the 19 year old St Anne’s College student from Reading, who was arrested “for littering” on 13th January this year when trying to throw a bottle of water to a tree protester, has received a four-figure out of court settlement and a formal apology from Thames Valley Police.
Gabriel Chamberlain had been camping in the Bonn Square tree for 12 days in protest at the council’s felling of around 40 mature trees in the area as part of their development plans. Many felt their actions were inhumane after they spent around £12,000  on a metal fence “ring of steel” and private security contractors, designed to prevent Mr. Chamberlain being given food and water by supporters.
This settlement comes at an embarrassing time for the City Council, just before the unveiling of the “new” Bonn Square on November 28th. This announcement is an awkward reminder of the widely-criticised manner in which the trees were removed without warning from Bonn Square and the surrounding area in January, sparking angry local protests, which included the arrest of Mr Leighton as well as county councillor Deborah Glass-Woodin .
In response to the settlement, Mr. Leighton said, “I am very pleased with this result. What I experienced was blatant political policing; my actions were not so much against the law as against the police. The fact that I was handcuffed and held in a police cell is humiliating. I wouldn’t wish it to happen to anybody else, which is why I think it is crucial to explore legal avenues and hold the police accountable for their actions.”