Music festival-goers who claim they were illegally strip searched by NSW police are suing the state government for damages, with the then 27-year-old lead plaintiff claiming an officer inspected her genitalia and that a male police officer entered the cubicle while she was naked from the waist down.
Jill Rowbotham reports for the Australian
The class action brought by Slater and Gordon and the Redfern Legal Centre is on behalf of people who say they were unlawfully searched at music festivals since July 2016.
They say police searched them without their consent and without reasonable grounds for suspecting the strip searches were necessary, with claims including assault, battery and false imprisonment.
Lead plaintiff Raya Meredith alleges she was searched in July 2018 on the first day of the three-day Splendour in the Grass festival at Byron Bay.
In the statement of claim, Ms Meredith alleges a police dog “sniffed towards” her as she was approaching the entrance with a group of friends, before moving on to the next person.
She alleges she was then stopped by a police officer who told her the dog had identified something on her and led her to an area with open cubicles. In the course of the search, which lasted about 30 minutes, a female police officer asked if she had any drugs on her. She said she did not and was patted down. She was asked to remove her shoes, pull down her top – under which she was braless – and to lift up her breasts.
After visual inspection, she pulled her top back up and alleged she was told to remove her shorts and underwear. The officer inspected her vagina and partially inspected the tampon inserted there, and she was then instructed to face away from the officer and bend over.
At this stage, a male police officer entered the cubicle to return her handbag and Ms Meredith stood up and dressed. Nothing was found on her or in her handbag and she was released.