Former Games commissioner says 25 officers took performers away in handcuffs at demonstration against sponsorship
The former London 2012 "ethics tsar" Meredith Alexander has accused police of an "Olympic-sized overreaction", saying they broke up a theatre performance designed to highlight the problems of corporate sponsorship of the Games and arrested six people on suspicion of criminal damage for spilling custard.
Alexander described how 25 police officers moved in after the 15-minute piece of theatre, which was performed to explain objections to sponsorship of the Olympics by companies such as Dow, BP and Rio Tinto.
Police sources confirmed that six individuals were arrested in Trafalgar Square for criminal damage. Alexander said the individuals were led away in handcuffs after green custard used in the show spilled on to the ground.
Three of those arrested were actors in the performance, the other three were in the process of cleaning up the custard, which had been poured over the actors.
Alexander said: "Dow, BP and Rio Tinto are spending millions to tell the public how sustainable they are. We did a 15-minute piece of theatre to reveal the truth and as a result of this piece of theatre 25 police officers turned up and six people were arrested. It is an Olympic-sized overreaction."
The performance – entitled Greenwash Gold 2012 awards – involved three actors representing the three companies having the green custard poured over their heads.
It is understood the police believed the green substance was paint, but Alexander denied this.
"We spilt a little bit of the green custard on the square and were in the process of cleaning it up when the police arrived," she said.
Kevin Smith of London Mining Network, which was involved in the performance, said: "It's ridiculously heavy-handed policing to arrest people for public theatre. The authorities are going to extreme lengths to protect the tarnished reputations of controversial Olympic sponsors like Dow."
The seven, three women aged 35, 37 and 51 and four men aged 24, 45, 64 and 66 remain in custody in London police stations, he added.