Sniffer Dogs At Parklife Music Festival Sydney, 2010 / Photo: Don Arnold/Getty Images

Over 150 People Without Drugs Booted From Sydney Music Festival

NSW Police are facing a potential class action after 150 people were turfed from a Sydney music festival despite not being found to have any drugs on them.

As triple j’s Hack reports, at least 30 of those who were booted from Sydney’s Midnight Mafia trance festival back in May have joined a new class action lawsuit, spearheaded by the Greens, claiming they were unfairly victimised by the cops’ tough new drug dog policy.

ICYMI: the state’s po-po came under fire for their controversial sniffer dog plan earlier this month, after declaring that they would be reserving the right to refuse entry to anyone pointed out by a squad doggo’s snoot during Sydney’s Above & Beyond festival, even if subsequent searches detected no sign of illegal drugs.

Five innocent punters were barred from the event as a result of the crackdown, with the NSW Greens and their ‘Sniff Off’ collective vowing to take the police to court for “abuse of powers”.

Now, it’s come to light that — before police made their tough new drug dog strategy public — a whopping 150 punters were ousted from Midnight Mafia back in May as a result of the same tough tactics.

According to a police report, 187 people were searched and kicked out, but only 35 of them were found to actually have drugs on them.

“Even though each individual’s claim may be relatively small – the loss of enjoyment, going to a concert, the personal difficulties they have on their night, the loss of ticket, or the travel costs – but when you bring all of these claims together that’s when you have a viable action,” Greens MP David Shoebridge tells Hack.

“That’s when you get the critical mass to hold organisations the size of the NSW Police to account” he continues.

“We really are just trying to work out the most viable course of action whether it’s a case that the police exceeded their statutory powers, whether the police potentially engaged in what’s called an intentional tort of trespass against individuals. Or it may even be based on consumer protection laws.

“There’s undoubtedly a significant civil wrong that’s been done but we just need to be sure we have the most viable course of action.”

Adding to his thoughts on Facebook, Shoebridge says: “This is a serious abuse of police powers that we’ll be challenging in public, in parliament and in the courts.”

When quizzed by Hack about the 150 festival ejections, a NSW police spokesperson said: “If you are suspected of drugs or alcohol, you will be refused entry into the event”.

“Our top priority for police is the safety of all event staff, performers and music fans throughout the festival… We want everyone to have a great time but we won’t tolerate behaviour that risks the safety of others.”

If you believe you’ve been unfairly targeted by NSW Police at one of these events, you can contact Sniff Off.

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