Police today hit back at eco-zealots who complained officers were rough with them when they were arrested for trying to storm the Grand National and cause massive disruption.
In a video set to emotional piano music posted on Twitter last night, activists from XR offshoot Animal Rising – formerly Animal Rebellion – claimed Merseyside Police officers and security guards from G4S broke their bones, unleashed dogs and used pepper-spray on them.
Protesters stormed the racecourse at Aintree at the weekend before they were halted by police and staff. But the disruption delayed the start time by 15 minutes, while one furious trainer whose horse died in the event blamed the eco-fanatics for helping cause the animal’s death.
Nearly 120 people were arrested and bailed, as fears grow that the radical Left-wing group will try to stage more stunts at other races including the Epsom Derby and Ascot.
Merseyside Police today responded to Animal Rising’s incendiary claims, saying they had received no ‘complaint’ and vowed to clampdown on ‘criminal behaviour and disorder’.
A protester runs towards the exterior fence to break into the course at Aintree on Saturday
A massive police response was triggered after two protesters made it onto the course
An activist has their face on the ground while a police officer kneels beside them
A detained animal rights activist is carried by police officers at Aintree
A spokesman for Merseyside Police told MailOnline: ‘The footage shown live on television on Saturday 15 April demonstrated the professionalism of our officers as they dealt with a co-ordinated protest involving large groups of people attempting to encroach onto the racecourse at Aintree.
‘Despite the whole site covering an extensive perimeter of around 5km our officers, with the assistance of security staff and members of the public, were able to deal with the challenging situation in a safe and appropriate manner.
‘Merseyside Police is aware of a video posted online showing a number of protesters making claims following their arrests on Saturday. As of today (Wednesday 19 April), Merseyside Police’s Professional Standards Department has not received a complaint in relation to any of these claims.
‘If we do receive any complaints in relation to this matter, they will be reviewed thoroughly in accordance with the Police (Complaints) Regulations 2020.
‘We respect the right to a peaceful protest and expression of views, but criminal behaviour and disorder will not be tolerated and sadly this is what took place at the Grand National on Saturday in an attempt to disrupt the race, which resulted in the arrests.’
Last night, Animal Rising on Twitter: ‘On Saturday we took peaceful action at the Grand National, to save lives and bring about a kinder world. In response we were brutalised by police and private security, we’ve experienced broken bones, dog bites and pepper spray. Is this what democracy looks like?’
Animal Rising has since appeared to have doubled down on their infamy and has announced plans to to raise £50,000 to wreak havoc across the country this summer. Some people have already donated over £16,000 to its crowd-funder with the group promising Saturday’s failure to stop the Aintree race was ‘just the beginning.’
The page on Chuffed reads: ‘This April saw the launch of Animal Rising, a movement for all life. With only the promise of disrupting the Grand National, watched by 600million people worldwide, we already made front-page news and appeared on Good Morning Britain. And stopping the Grand National is just the beginning.’
In the short clip posted on Twitter, several activists make a series of incendiary claims towards the police and private security service G4S.
An animal rights activist is detained by the police at Aintree on Saturday
Police officers with a detained protester during the Grand National on Saturday
An animal rights activist is detained by the police at Aintree on Saturday
Police search an activist outside the gates ahead of the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday
Activists outside the gates ahead of day three of the Randox Grand National Festival
One man, who was filmed with his arm in a sling and claimed to have a broken collarbone, said: ‘He just poleaxed me, flattened me to the ground. Hit me on this side and that fractured my collarbone.
‘There was no warning at all given by the police officer, they didn’t care, they didn’t care what my condition was.’
Another activist claims he was ‘choked unconscious’ before being ‘pulled by his hair’ and called a ‘p****’ by police.
Another claimed: ‘One of my teammates was being viciously attacked by a security dog.
‘He desperately asked a security guard to remove the dog. He watched the dog viciously attack my friend and take a chunk out of his leg. All of this was done in front of the police.’
Other activists claim they were repeatedly pushed to the ground by officers and roughly manhandled despite ‘screaming in pain’.
One protester told the camera: ‘I was sprayed by an officer in the eyes with pepper spray and the police officer cuffed me so tight that I couldn’t feel my arms or my hands and I told them I feel like you’re just breaking my wrists and he told me to ‘keep f******* walking.
‘He called me a little p**** and that I deserve this pain.’
Activists took to Twitter to make claims about injuries they sustained while trying to stop the race
Protesters accused private security service G4S of being heavy handed
One protester said he had been touched by a policeman’s rubber baton
MailOnline approached G4S security for a response to these claims however they declined to comment.
Animal Rights’ fundraising page on Chuffed reads: ‘By the end of the year we aim to be a household name, having put our treatment of animals and the destruction of nature at the heart of public conversation.
‘Because disrupting races to protect animals from cruel sports is only part of the picture. Most importantly, we will be generating a wider conversation about how we treat animals in society as a whole, whether that’s for fun or ‘food’.
‘Our broken relationship with animals is never clearer than in animal farming and fishing.
‘These industries are directly responsible for not only animal exploitation and suffering, but also global heating, extreme weather events, food insecurity, and the mass loss of wildlife and nature.’
The plot to wreck the national was exposed by an undercover Mail on Sunday investigation earlier this month. It meant police and security guards were able to prepare and minimise the disruption on Saturday.
There have since been calls for authorities to take stern action on protesters to serve as a deterrent, including from Tory MP Philip Davies, vice chairman of the all party parliamentary group on racing and bloodstock.
Protesters sit together after they were detained by police
Animal Rising activists outside Aintree during the Grand National on Saturday
Handcuffed activists are guarded by police officers during the Grand National at Aintree
He said: ‘I very much hope that the courts throw the book at these ignorant, virtue signalling anarchists who wouldn’t know one end of a horse from another, and whose antics did more damage to horse welfare on Saturday than anyone else.’
Sandy Thomson, trainer of Hill Sixteen, said the horses were ‘very wound up’ by the disruption and that his horse had never fallen before in his 26-race career.
He cited the delay and the rushed preparation caused by the protesters as being a major reason for the race’s total of three fallers, along with five unseated jockeys, over the first two fences.
Hill Sixteen was one of three horses who died during this year’s three-day Grand National Festival, down one from four last year. There had been calls for tough action to repel the protesters before the race from figures including former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
The MP said: ‘All these people ever do is protest – it’s become a way of life for them. The police shouldn’t tolerate it.’