Student has emergency brain surgery after ‘being beaten around the head with police truncheon’ during protest

A student was rushed to hospital for emergency brain surgery after he was allegedly hit with a police truncheon during last night’s tuition fees protest.

Alfie Meadows, 20, developed bleeding on his brain when he was hit as he tried leave the ‘kettling’ area outside Westminster Abbey, his mother said.

The Middlesex University student fell unconscious on the way to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where he underwent a three-hour operation to save his life.

He was one of 44 people, including six police officer, treated in hospital after London’s most violent night of student rioting over fees.

A further 14 people, including six police, were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Alfie’s mother, Susan Meadows, 55, an English literature lecturer at Roehampton University, said her son had described the blow to his head as ‘the hugest he had ever felt’.

‘Basically he had a stroke last night,’ she said. ‘He couldn’t speak or move his hand.

‘The surface wound wasn’t very big but three hours after the blow, he suffered bleeding to the brain,’ she said.

‘He survived the operation and he’s in the recovery room.

‘Thanks to the wonderful medical care he’s come through it. It was terrifying.’

Mr Meadows, who is studying philosophy, was with a number of friends, including two lecturers, Nina Power, a colleague of his mother, and Peter Hallward, a philosophy lecturer at Kingston University.

But as they tried to leave the area where protesters were being held in a police ‘kettling’ operation, the second-year undergraduate suffered a blow to the head.

He phoned his mother, who was also at the protest in a different area, and told her about his injury.

‘He knew he had to go to hospital but he didn’t initially know how bad it was,’ said Mrs Meadows, who stayed up all night at the hospital with him.

‘The policeman offered to get him an ambulance but he was in shock and didn’t know how serious it was.’
Clashes: Police medics carry another injured protester – not Alfie Meadows – to safety yesterday

Clashes: Police medics carry another injured protester – not Alfie Meadows – to safety yesterday

She said he had been trying to get out of the ‘kettle’ because police had announced people who were obviously not trouble-makers would be allowed to leave.

She said she talked about the possibility of trouble with her son before the demonstrations.

‘He’s an extraordinarily idealistic and committed and political person. He cares passionately about the cause,’ she said, adding that he had been to training sessions at the University of London.

‘They had been given advice on how to stay safe. He would never try to be a martyr.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘We are aware of a 20-year-old male with a head injury who is currently in hospital. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been involved.’

Speaking later, Mrs Meadows said: ‘The wonderful news is that Alfie is talking and doing very well.

‘But he’s got tubes coming out of him everywhere. He will be in hospital for quite a while, it was a very major thing.

‘He can remember the demonstration. He wanted to know whether other people were hurt, what happened afterwards and whether his friends were OK.

‘We’re just absolutely unbelievably thrilled that he has come through it. It was the most tremendous blow to his head.’

She said she felt ‘very strongly’ about the police behaviour, adding: ‘It’s part of a pattern of the way in which these events are being policed.

‘Alfie said to me before this happened, “Somebody is going to get killed”. It’s very frightening.’
Dangerous: An aerosol canister explodes during London’s most violent night of student rioting over fees

Dangerous: An aerosol canister explodes during London’s most violent night of student rioting over fees

Ms Power, 32, a philosophy lecturer, said she was with Mr Meadows just minutes before the incident.

She said: ‘The police had been very violent all day. Whoever was trying to get out, they weren’t allowing them.

‘We were standing quite far back. We were nowhere near the front line.

‘We were just talking about getting out. I went one way and Alfie tried another.

‘The police were getting very violent at that point. Where I tried to get out they were charging with horses. We had to run back.

‘Alfie is not a violent person. He wouldn’t have done anything silly. He’s not the sort of person who would have been carrying weapons.

‘He’s very political, engaged and passionate, but he’s not a violent person at all.’

She said the other lecturer, Mr Hallward, saw Alfie later on and he was on his own in the street, looking ‘very confused’.

Alfie’s father, Matthew Meadows, 62, a writer and artist, said the family had been ‘desperately upset’.

‘I am pleased to say it is looking much better. It was a miracle an ambulance was close by.

‘He is a very peaceful boy – the Met’s aggression was disturbing.’

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