THREE anti-fur trade protesters – including two ladies aged over 60 – have won apologies and compensation from Dorset Police for unlawful arrest.

They staged a peaceful demonstration outside a boutique clothes shop but were detained under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, which is designed for serious disorder.

“I think the arrests were an insult to the democratic rights this country has fought two world wars to protect,” said demonstrator Steve Crabb, 47, a self-employed gardener from The Lansdowne.

The protesters were part of a small demonstration with placards staged outside the clothes shop Lonah in Westbourne last March 29.

The demonstrators were asked to stand on the other side of the road but returned after deciding the police had no power to move them, and were arrested under Section 14.

“It is for smashing windows and drunks and setting out to intimidate people,” said protestor Linda Savage, a retired post office assistant from Southbourne who was dressed as a rabbit.

Dorset Police now accept they did not block the pavement or commit any offence, and that there were no complaints from the public or allegations of intimidation.

They were taken to Bournemouth police station for almost seven hours and they were held in cells, fingerprinted and questioned.

Protester Audrey Douglas, 70, a retired retail worker from Westbourne who uses a walking stick, said: “It was upsetting and a ridiculous waste of time.”

The trio declined to say how much compensation they had been awarded, saying it was a private matter.

They had to give DNA samples. They are now trying to get the police to delete the arrests and the samples from their records.

Mr Crabb said: “If someone does a CRB check, or your car gets stopped for a broken rear light, it will come through that you were arrested for a Section 14 offence – it will not come up that the arrest was unlawful.

“That will instantly put you in a bad light.”

The police’s letter to their solicitor said the arresting officer, PC Lemon, and the custody sergeant, Sgt Rose, will receive “management action.”

The letter also alleged previous protests by unnamed people had been “intimidating”. PC Lemon had sought advice on powers before the demonstration from the force’s Public Order Unit.

The trio’s solicitor, Beth Handley from Hickman and Rose in London, said: “It’s bit worrying that the officer on the ground had been advised by other colleagues that it was OK to use these powers.

“I hope as a result of this claim the police understand they can’t use these powers to deal with these kind of protesters – it was just really outrageous.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “We are of course sorry and have apologised to the individuals and compensation has been accepted.”