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Students To File $2.5 Million Lawsuit Tomorrow

42 Victoria University students and one lecturer will file a lawsuit in the High Court on Thursday against the police, the attorney general, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The lawsuit claims $2.5 million compensation for wrongful arrest, denial of the right to bail and assault, amongst other claims.

The claimants were part of a 1997 demonstration broken up by police outside parliament, and were protesting at the education policy of the National government of the time.

A judgement by the High Court last year permanently stayed prosecutions against the protesters, stating that while the Speaker had a right to remove protesters from parliament in some circumstances, he must ensure that the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Bill of Rights Act were limited only to the extent that was reasonably necessary.

Victoria University Students Association president Chris Hipkins said Thursday's claim was the culmination of a long, drawn-out process.

"The wheels of justice move very slowly," he said.

Mr Hipkins, one of those arrested in the demonstration, also said he was confident about the outcome of the lawsuit.

"Everything that is in the statement of claim is true. If you read it, it's quite obvious that there were wrongs committed."

Mr Hipkins did not believe the student's action would lead to similar court cases nationwide.

"This was a unique case," he said.

"There were 74 students arrested in the parliament grounds for doing little more than chanting and upsetting the government, and they had their human rights violated once the police stepped in."

Mr Hipkin said he hoped the case would make the police wary of treating students in the way they had done in the 1997 demonstration.

A spokesperson for the Wellington police said it would be premature for them to make a comment before the case reached a court environment.


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