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"The demonstrators gathered in front of the Catalan economy ministry were a peaceful crowd". That's one of the conclusions of Sir Hugh Orde and Duncan McCausland, two former senior police officers in the UK, in a report they wrote for Jordi Cuixart's defence counsel and which was refused by the Supreme Court, according to (in Spanish) and The Times (paywall).

Whilst Civil Guard witnesses talk about violence from demonstrators against the search of the Catalan economy ministry, the text says that "apart from the mere volume of the crowd and of the inherent problems for public safety, we haven't seen anything which has worried us in terms of violence". Indeed, they say directly that "we haven't seen any evidence of organised or routine violence during the day". On the other hand, they find aspects of the police operation "difficult to understand" and "very risky".

The report from the former senior officers analyses events up to and including the referendum in terms of the police operation and the attitudes of protesters. They calculate that implementing the order to prevent the referendum would have taken 90,000 police; only 13,800 were involved that day.

The experts find that Sànchez and Cuixart were known and had a "certain degree of authority" over the crowd outside the economy ministry, and that "there was one theme which was repeated in all their speeches: they insisted that the gathering should be peaceful and to isolate violent acts".

That said, they also conclude that "a reduced group of people found themselves involved, individually, in destroying the Civil Guard vehicles parked in front of the department and then stood up to the Mossos when the demonstration was dissolved". They don't give Sànchez or Cuixart any blame for these incidents.

"The crowd didn't prevent the search"

After watching CCTV footage, the British officers say the search "was carried out without any hindrance from the growing crowd outside and that people were entering and leaving the building without any apparent difficulty".

The 120-page report also analyses the day of the referendum itself, 1st October 2017, through evaluating more than 200 videos of the police's actions that day. At all polling stations, they find voters' attitudes to have been of "peaceful resistance" and "without violence".

Sir Hugh Orde has been president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Duncan McCausland was assistant chief constable of the PSNI.

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