RLC in the Media: Lawyers behind Splendour In The Grass police searches class action detail investigation

Lawyers from Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre who are launching a class action investigation into potentially unlawful searches by New South Wales Police at Splendour in the Grass have detailed their investigation to NME, saying they aim to file proceedings by next year.

Alex Gallagher reports for NME.

Yesterday (November 16) it was first reported by triple j’s Hack that RLC and S&G are encouraging anyone who believes they were unlawfully searched at the festival between 2016 and 2019 to confidentially join the class action. Those impacted by “serious breaches” are potentially entitled to tens of thousands of dollars in compensation, RLC and S&G said.

Speaking to NME at S&G’s Sydney office yesterday, RLC principal solicitor Alexis Goodstone said they hoped to file proceedings by the middle of 2022, urging affected festivalgoers to come forward and share their experiences before then.

In 2020, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission concluded a two-year inquiry into NSW Police strip search practices. The watchdog then released a 150-page report that found there was “grey area” in the force’s protocol when it came to police searches.

As part of the LECC’s inquiry, it questioned a NSW police officer who admitted that the 19 searches he conducted at Splendour in 2018 may have been unlawful. The LECC also found that a 16-year-old girl was unlawfully searched at the festival in 2018.

This action, focused on Splendour, comes after RLC and S&G’s own 2020 investigation into NSW Police strip searches conducted over the past six years, Hack reported.

“We want anyone who has been subjected to any kind of search at Splendour in the Grass to come forward,” Goodstone tells NME. “That could be police asking you to take off all your clothes, but it could also be police just peering down your top or peering down your trousers or asking you to lift an item of clothing.”

“The question of whether someone’s being subjected to an unlawful search or not is not determined by whether drugs that were found or not. So, people may well be eligible to be part of the class action and to obtain compensation even if drugs were found on them.”

They encourage festivalgoers to reach out even if they are unsure of whether they were searched unlawfully or not, S&G senior associate Ebony Birchall adds: “We just want to hear from everyone who was searched because we can work out if the search was unlawful or not on our end. It’s more about hearing from everyone.”

Read the full article here. (17 November 2021)