Police had to protect protesters - former cop

Lance Burdett (Paul Henry)
Lance Burdett (Paul Henry)

Police battling Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) protesters in Auckland yesterday had no choice but to rough up demonstrators, says one former top cop.

Lance Burdett, a former police negotiator and detective, says police's manhandling of demonstrators -- which mainly took place after a small group tried to block the entrance to the city's motorway -- was done for the "benefit of the protesters".

"Running on to the motorway, I know there'll be a lot of drivers in Auckland who would just keep driving and wouldn't care about them, so [police] really have to protect the protesters," Mr Burdett told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

The thousands-strong protest was sparked by the signing of the TPP agreement, which was held in Auckland yesterday.

Trade Ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries attended the ceremonial signing, at Auckland's SkyCity Convention Centre.

Photos from the protest showed police pulling people's hair and roughly pushing demonstrators, but Mr Burdett says they had no choice when a small break-away group sat on the road and linked arms, refusing to move.

Watch the video for the full interview.