A taxpayer-funded legal aid service is taking heat for launching a lawsuit against a Victorian police officer on behalf of a protester who was dribbled on by a police horse and left with a swollen foot.
Protester Alexander Forbes was among a 100-strong demonstration at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre in May 2011.
The demonstration flared up as the group, which was protesting against mandatory detention, was marching to a nearby shopping centre.
Amid the melee, Mr Forbes claims he was "salivated" on by a police horse, causing his clothing to become wet — an incident that apparently caused him some distress as others commented on the amount of horse saliva on his clothes, the Herald Sun reports.
The same horse also stepped on the 20-year-old's foot, causing swelling that required a trip to the hospital.
Mr Forbes was discharged the same day.
He has since filed a writ at the County Court of Victoria through the Fleming and Kensington Community Legal Centre.
He is suing the senior constable who was riding the horse at the time as well as the state of Victoria.
Joining him in the lawsuit is fellow protester Mark Ryan, 50, who suffered a fractured collarbone after the same horse fell on top of him.
Bruce McKenzie, assistant secretary of the Police Association of Victoria, told the Herald Sun it was "outrageous" that taxpayer money was being used to fund the legal action.
"We are disgusted by it and Victorian taxpayers should be outraged that their money is being used to fund these types of actions," he was quoted as saying.
"Our understanding of this course of events is the crowd that attended this public demonstration deliberately antagonised our members and deliberately put our horse-mounted members at risk, as well as the animals themselves."
Source: Herald Sun
Author: Erin Tennant