The man was allegedly thrown to the ground and kicked by “a number” of HS2 workers before being restrained “with a knee on his neck for at least four minutes”. Bosses at HS2 say staff have been “repeatedly and excessively targeted by political activists” who have “subjected them to violence”.
Local MP Michael Fabricant has now written to police, ministers and HS2 after “several constituents” reported the alleged “excessive use of force” during the incident in Fradley Wood near Lichfield, Staffs.
Speaking based on what he claimed to be reports from his constituents, Mr Fabricant told Staffordshire Live: “A lone protester had, unwisely, fired some carrots using a catapult over the HS2 fence from the other side of the road.
“The man was thrown to the ground by a number of HS2 security people, kicked, and held down with a knee on his neck for at least four minutes, someone timed it.
“During this time a number of passing motorists stopped to protest, but it was not until the police arrived that he was able to get up.
“My views on HS2 and the destruction of ancient woodlands are well known.
“Despite my voting against the legislation in Parliament, HS2 was authorised with an overwhelming majority.
“However, the law does not permit using excessive force by HS2 against protesters.
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“I was not a witness to the event, so I cannot judge whether excessive force was used or, indeed, whether any force was necessary at all.
“But several constituents have contacted me about this event and I take their concern seriously.
“I have, therefore, written to Gareth Morgan, the chief constable of Staffordshire Police, to ask whether there is evidence that HS2 personnel have committed an assault and have also written to Andrew Stephenson MP – the minister at the Department for Transport responsible for HS2 – and the managing director of HS2, Mark Thurston.
“Lawful protest against HS2 is permitted. Heavy handed tactics by HS2 are not.”
Police said they had arrested a protester on suspicion of assault and possessing an offensive weapon and are now investigating the allegations against the HS2 workers.
Officers were called to where the line is being built at Fradley Wood on Sunday, November 15, while workers were clearing woodland.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “We were called to an incident at around 11.30am on Sunday, November 15 following reports a man had fired pellets at staff working at a site in Fradley.
“Officers attended the location and a 50-year-old man from Wolverhampton was arrested on suspicion of assault and possessing an offensive weapon. He has since received a conditional caution.
“Following the incident, we have been made aware of complaints about how the man was restrained by security staff at the location and we are investigating.
“Anyone with information should contact Staffordshire police on 101 or via social media referring to incident 227 of November 15.”