Claimant firm Leigh Day will demand a full explanation after one of its lawyers was arrested meeting clients in Zambia.

The firm says its lawyer Oliver Holland was detained for four hours by the southern African state before being released having paid a small fine.

Holland told the Gazette he was held in police cells without access to a lawyer, food or water.

The firm had been meeting with local communities to discuss their claims relating to alleged pollution from a copper mine which they claim is causing damage to farming land and water sources. The claim is against multinational corporation Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines.

Holland said the initial arresting officers involved were driving a vehicle displaying the Konkola Copper Mines logo. Holland said: ‘We will be seeking assurances both from the defendants and from the Zambian government that we will not be prevented from meeting our clients in the future.


'The ability for clients to meet with their lawyers is essential in their pursuit of justice and is a vital element of any fair and open society.’

A spokeswoman for KCM has clarified that the company played no part in what happened.

She said: 'KCM has learnt about the alleged incident and can confirm that the company had no involvement in the police operation. KCM agrees that the rights of clients to meet with their lawyers is important and should be protected.'

Holland was arrested under the Public Order Act, which states that holding a meeting of more than three people requires a police permit. The act is usually invoked during election times by political parties.

Leigh Day said the response was ‘excessive’. Holland was eventually charged with the misdemeanour ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’, which resulted in him paying a ZMK50 ($5/£4) fine.