Police to foot bill following festival victory

A landmark court ruling has ordered police to repay Mean Fiddler thousands of pounds for costs incurred following the rioting at Leeds Festival in 2003.

Appeal Court judges yesterday ordered West Yorkshire Police to repay more than £300,000 it had previously charged Mean Fiddler, which organises Leeds Festival along with Reading, Glastonbury, and new event, Lattitude.

Lord Justice Scott Baker admitted that his decision would have “implications for sporting events, music festivals and large gatherings“. It will come as a huge blow to police forces up and down the country, which may now be forced to foot the bills at an ever-increasing number of music festivals in the UK.  

Yesterday’s court hearing related to the 2003 Leeds Festival, at which officers’ holidays were cancelled and a helicopter drafted in to help man the event. It followed serious riots in 2002 when police clashed with around 500 rampaging festival-goers who set fire to toilets (and pretty much anything else that came to hand!)
Virtual Festivals was the only media outlet in the world to get photos of the carnage. See them HERE.

Mean Fiddler was asked to foot the bill but refused, claiming they should only be liable for controlling traffic outside the event.

Leeds County Court later ordered the music promoter to pay the force £313,784, but yesterday three appeal court judges overturned that judgment, saying the “predominant purpose” of the large police presence was “for the protection of the public at large”, and Mean Fiddler should not be made to pay for that.

Melvin Benn, of the Mean Fiddler group, said: “If the police had been on the site as I wanted them to be I would pay for them. They wouldn’t come on the site and chose to police the public highway instead. I don’t think I should be charged for that.”

Leeds Festival takes place at Bramham Park, Leeds, from 25-27 August. Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and Slayer are among the acts confirmed to play. Click here for more.