The Court of Appeal has today ruled against the test cases of ‘precrime’ royal wedding arrestees.
The Metropolitan Police pre-emptively arrested dozens of people shortly before and on the day of the Royal Wedding in 2011, including a people from a ‘zombie’ flash-mob in Soho Square, a group of 10 republican protestors at Charing Cross Station, and one man who was ‘a known anarchist’ walking in central London. Many were detained for hours, and all were released without charge.
Some of the arrestees pursued a Judicial Review against the Metropolitan Police in 2012, arguing that their arrests were evidence of a policy of pre-emptive political policing designed to keep dissenters – both real and perceived – off the streets.
The High Court initially found in the police’s favour in July 2012, but the Court of Appeal found in that the arrestees had grounds for appeal on the basis that there was doubt surrounding whether the arresting offices ever intended to bring the arrestees before a judge to charge them with any offence.
Under Article 5(1) (c) of the European Convention of Human Rights, for an arrest to be lawful there must be an intention to bring them before a competent legal authority. The plaintiffs argue that there was no intention to bring any of the arrestees before a court, and as such the arrest was unlawful – and simply used as a way to keep dissenting voices out of sight during the Royal Wedding.
A Royal Wedding arrestee involved in the ongoing case said: “There is a clear trajectory running through our arrests to policing actions around the Olympics to recent arrests of anti-fascists which shows that the Metropolitan Police are using mass arrests as a political tactic to undermine protest and dissent. Some very basic democratic and civil liberties are at stake.”
Another arrestee said “This appeal was not the court case we wanted as we wanted to challenge the entire tactic of pre-emptive arrest, but we believe our appeal is an important challenge to the police’s ‘right’ to act in this way.”
The ongoing court proceedings take place in the context of the increasing use of mass arrests and other disproportionate policing tactics against protestors. There have been mass arrests of over 100 people at anti-facist protests and on ‘Critical Mass‘ bike rides in recent years. On the same day that the Court of Appeal judgement was handed down it was also announced that police are asking for water cannons to use during anti-austerity protests.
Bhatt Murphy solicitors, who are representing the royal wedding arrestees commented “the plaintiffs are attempting to do something of considerable legal importance that would have far reaching implications for policing in this country and would make a significant contribution to the development of the rights of protestors.”
The Court of Appeal case was made up of four test cases of individual arrestees. On Wednesday 22, January 2014 the Lord Maurice Kay, Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Justice Aikens dismissed the appeals and decided the court was not bound to follow the legal principles the decision of Ostendorf v Germany which was recently heard at the Strasbourg European Court of Human Rights.
The plaintiffs are very disappointed with the result and will certainly be looking into appealing the decision and taking it to the Supreme Court.
Notes for editors
• Hannah Eiseman-Reynard, an arrestee, can be contacted for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07958 267786
• For information on the background to the case, see pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com
The Royal Wedding Claimants will have a hearing for their application for permission to appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday 25th of March at 10:30 AM.
The case will be heard by Lord Justice Moses.
Members of the public and the press are free to attend. The hearing is not expected to take longer than one hour.
We hope to have good news to report soon.
This was released by the High Court at 10:00 AM today, Wednesday 18th of July.
The claimants need a little time to look into our options, but we strongly disagree with the conclusions of this judgement and may seek to appeal it.
Today Lord Justice Richards has given his verdict on the four Judicial Reviews about the policing of the royal wedding. After a five day hearing and many hundreds of pages of evidence to back up the claimants’ cases that the police acted unlawfully, the high court has dismissed all four claims.
This case has implications which are as wide-ranging as they are terrifying and this result could be interpreted as giving the police carte blanche to perform more pre-emptive arrests of ‘known activists’ over the Olympics. (The police have already begun pre-emptive raids ahead of the Olympics.)
Needless to say we, the claimants were sorely disappointed and concerned about the precedent which this sets. We maintain that this was an extremely important case to bring and are looking into the possibilities of appeals.
“I feel disappointed, angry and frankly unsafe that the high court has given tacit approval to such clearly abusive and political policing,” said Hannah Eiseman-Renyard, one of 15 claimants in Hicks and Others) v the Commissioner of the Metropolis – the Judicial Review into pre-emptive breach of the peace arrests.
We will have more to say when we’ve had a little more time to read the 85-page judgement.
We keep being asked this question but – frustratingly – the answer is still ‘watch this space’. As the court hearing adjourned at the very beginning of June and the judges mentioned that they wouldn’t have time to consider a verdict until the end of June – we’re assuming that we will get the results some time in July.
The case had hundreds of pages of evidence (at least 3 moving-house-sized boxes’ worth) and obviously the judges will want to weigh up all the evidence and all legal precedents very carefully.
We hope and assume we will have the results before the Olympics begin, and that if there are any learnings or recommendations from the judgement that they will be applied to the policing of the Olympics, but… we’ll just have to wait and see.
Stay tuned – you’ll be the first to know.
Reposted with permission from Kevin Blowe of the Newham Monitoring Project from his blog Random Blowe
A number of people have asked me to clarify what impact Olympic-specific legislation may have on local people and anyone promoting protests or making political statements during this summer’s Games. Here is a short guide.
There are two relevant Acts of Parliament – The Olympic Symbol Etc (Protection) Act 1995 (the “1995 Act”) and The London Olympic Games And Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the “2006 Act”). Both are primarily concerned with providing special protection for Olympic brands, sponsors and copyright holders, over and above existing copyright or contract law.
The 1995 Act created an ‘Olympic Association Right’ that may be infringed when the five-rings symbol, the Games’ mottoes and the word Olympic, Olympian or similar words are used without authorisation in the course of trade. The 2006 Act created a new ‘London Olympic Association Right’ giving LOCOG the power to prevent unauthorised associations with the Games. It also created “Listed Expressions” in the form of two lists, A and B. List A contains the words Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012 and Twenty Twelve. List B contains the words London, Medals, Sponsor, Gold, Silver and Bronze (and even the word “Summer”). Use of any two words in list A or any word in list A with one or more of the words in list B is not permitted.
This means even references to London as ‘Olympic Host City’ in any advert could be an infringement, so local traders will need to tread very carefully if they want to avoid breaking incredibly restrictive laws. For example, the advert on the right, which I photographed recently in the window of a shop in Newham, is almost certainly a very bad idea and it is also worth mentioning that infringements are criminal offences, not civil grievances. The maximum fine is £20,000.
However, the use of protected words or listed expressions is allowed for editorial use in news bulletins and journalistic articles about the Games or the Olympic movement – as long as they are not “advertorials“.
For more on brands and marketing, see London 2012’s UK statutory marketing rights on the LOCOG website [PDF]
Attending the Games – No Uploading Photos
Visitors to Games events will find that the terms and conditions of their tickets include a long list of restricted items that includes “printed matter bearing religious, political or offensive content or content contrary to public order and/or morality” and forbidden behaviour’ that includes “activity or protest related to unions, political or religious subjects” and “unauthorised transmissions and/or recording through mobile telephones”.
Specifically, there is a restriction on uploading photos pr videos to FaceBook, Twitter or YouTube: “a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally”.
In the Vicinity of Games Venues
The 2006 Act includes the provision to make regulations about advertising in the vicinity of London Olympic event zones. These are listed in the Act but in east London include the whole of the London boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
However, in December last year, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport issued the London Olympic Games (Trading and Advertising) (England) Regulations 2011. These outlined restrictions on “advertising activity in an event zone” that apply to any goods, services or business and include “advertising of a non-commercial nature” – although not to a “not-for-profit body” with charitable purposes.
Section 22 of the 2006 Act gives a constable or enforcement officer the power to enter land or premises on which they reasonably believe an illegal advertisement has been placed and “remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article”. However, there is a specific “exception for demonstrations“ – restrictions do not apply to “advertising activity intended to demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person or body of persons” or to “publicise a belief, cause or campaign”, as long as this does not promote or advertise goods or services.
Individuals are also excluded from restrictions “if they displaying an advertisement on the individual’s body”, as long as there is not reasonable cause to suspect that they are engaged in ‘ambush marketing’. This means it is OK to simply wander around wearing a t-shirt advertising a brand that is not one of the Olympic sponsors.
It also means I can wear my Official Protester t-shirt in Stratford without fear of contravening Olympic laws, but not inside the Olympic Park if I want to avoid invalidating a ticket – and if I was foolish enough to set up a stall and try to sell these t-shirts, I’d be in deep trouble.
Article from the Guardian – Olympic Games 2012: police plan pre-emptive arrests to stop disruption.
They plan to arrest people pre-emptively to stop disruption. Not criminality. The ‘gold commander’ in charge of this large scale operation will be Commander Broadhurst – the same person who was in charge of the policing of the royal wedding.
If this sounds horrific to you and you can make it to any of the Olympic sites or live in any of the surrounding burroughs – you could volunteer to become a community legal observer during the Olympics. Newham Monitoring Project is running training on Saturday the 9th of June and Friday the 15th of June.
Day five saw barristers acting on behalf of all four groups of claimants made their final arguments in response to the Met’s barrister, Sam Grodzinski‘s case the day before.
- He pointed out that the raid was not about the fictional paint bombs which police had warrants for, it was about searching for Operation Brontide suspects who had committed criminal damage acts at earlier demonstrations. There was no evidence to link the suspects to the side, but officers were acting on “Commander Broadhurst’s hunch.”
- “The two Operation Brontide officers on the site then went on to the Camberwell site”
- If police were genuinely seeking to disrupt potential criminal damage before it happened it was odd that they left all the many tools which were around in the working gardens, but instead searched people’s wallets for their ID.
Alex Bailin QC acting for Tuckers solicitors and M the minor arrested for ‘criminal damage’ for having two pens in his backpack as well as plaintiffs from the Rat Star squat in Camberwell argued that the absence of any unlawful policy on paper in the Met’s planning documents did not disprove that there was an unlawful policy in practice “It’s quite possible to have a mock policy on paper which is still applied badly.”
- Despite PC Morgan’s statement that “police will facilitate peaceful protest in Soho Square” it was recorded that M had a “map to an illegal protest” and PC Whitwell’s statement reads “I suspected he intended to protest”.
- Alex Bailin stated “We know the statement said ‘illegal protest’ and we know the officer’s EAB [notebook] said ‘intended to protest’. If you put these together you can infer what the policy was on the ground.”
- “We invite the court to infer that the stop and search was based on the basis of the megaphone” and he went on the conclude that the “arrest in M’s case was not necessary … there were alternatives which were not fairly considered.”
Regarding the raids on the Rat Star squat Bailin stated
- “The existence of an ulterior motive during the execution of the warrant is admitted by the defendant but he says it was not the dominant purpose. We say it was.”
- Commander Broadhurst had admitted he planned “to time the arrests to that any unlawful activity or individuals could be detained in time for thew royal wedding.”
“We submit that the court should look at all the matters in the round”
- She referenced judgements reached by the European Court of Human Rights that “even where the nature of the speech is repugnant to most right-thinking people there is an obligation on the state to facilitate.”
- A lawful arrest for breach of the peace must be to prevent an imminent breach of the peace. While the Met have argued that this term must be considered in the context of a busy capitol city, Monaghan replied that “while we acknowledge that the question of imminence is a flexible one … it cannot be viewed so flexibly as to fail the reasonableness test.”
- She rebuffed the Met’s “claim that somehow warning the claimants would have been dangerous and fanciful … there was no reason to believe that asking them to go home or asking them to move away would not have been complied with … the least instrusive means should be adopted to prevent a breach of the peace. There ought not to be an assumption made but an individual assessment”
- She stated the police’s actions were “indicative of a policy of rounding up those who might be seen to be causing trouble.”
- In the case of the ‘known activist’ arrested for walking towards Trafalgar Square “if those are reasonable grounds it’s difficult to see how he can ever attend a large scale public event. It’s an ASBO without the protection an ASBO would have.” From the claimant’s custody record “it is clear that he’s simply being detained for the purposes of keeping him out of the way.”
- Ms Monaghan finished by inviting the Judges to look at the police officer’s EAB notebooks again to get a picture of what the policy – official or otherwise – looked like when communicated to officers on the ground.
The final day of the hearing was wrapped up before midday. However, due to the many hundreds of pages of evidence, the hearing did not have an immediate judgement. The Judges overseeing the proceedings – Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Openshaw – indicated that they’ll give their judgement in late June at the earliest – so July is probably a safer estimate.
We’ll keep you posted.
NB: The final hearing is on Friday June 1st at the High Court (court 8) starting at 10:00 AM. It will consist of re-sponses from all the claimants’ barristers to the police’s barrister’s arguments. The hearing is expected to conclude between 12:00 and 1:00.
Day four saw the rest of barrister Sam Grodzinski responding to all the cases in turn, beginning with the first Judicial Review relating to pre-emptive arrests for breach of the peace on the day of the royal wedding.
To argue that there was not an unlawful policy of pre-emptive arrest or unlawful raids on squats, yet explain the Met’s actions Mr Grodzinski has to argue that all of the Met’s actions were completely proportionate.
- Mr Grodzinski began with the case of a female known as JMC who was arrested for breach of the peace near Soho Square with a flyer about the zombie flashmob in her pocket. The flyer was from the group Queer Resistance and is visable here.
- The Met’s barrister admitted “I had to look up what a flashmob was” but defined it as “a spontaneous gathering in a place to demonstrate” He seemed convinced the flashmob would be moving elsewhere and said “it doesn’t say where it will be but there’s a picture of Buckingham Palace.”
- He rebuffed the argument of Karon Monaghan QC that less intrusive policing options were available – such as if the leaflet were the offending article it could be confiscated. “Of course it wasn’t physical possession of the leaflet” said the Met’s barrister. “handing it over would not cleanse her of those intentions.” Nonetheless he argued that JMC was not arrested “simply because she held views which were unpopular.”
- In the case of one man arrested as he walked down the street because he was ‘a known activist’ the Met argued that, again, there were no other options available to the police as he “a) he was an anarchist b) because he was walking towards Trafalgar Square and c) because he admitted he knew of a gathering near Trafalgar Square.”
- Anarchism is not synonymous with hooliganism, though the Met’s barrister appears to think that ‘the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful’ (source: Wikipedia) is evidence enough to arrest someone.
- The Met’s barrister argued that “if an arrest has been carried out in good faith” then it is legal, regardless of any other circumstances.
- In the case of a minor arrested pre-emptively for ‘criminal damage’ because of two marker pens in his backpack, Mr Grodzkinski said confiscating the pens was not an option as “he could have bought more.” He was initially stopped and searched because he had a megaphone but the police argue that there was nothing political about his arrest.
- When police searched his camera they found a photograph of some (stenciled) graffiti on a park sign which they claimed to believe M had done, and they claimed to believe it was on a war memorial.
- The Evidence Review Officer at the police station concluded, after M had been held for eight hours, that there was “insufficient evidence to prove intention”. The Met’s barrister disputed this statement. It is unclear what further action he thought was necessary for the police to take against a law-abiding minor with two pens in their backpack.
- Regarding the raid on the Rat Star Squat where the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Gold Command’ Commander Broadhurst admitted that the “sole reason for the timing was the royal wedding” – the barrister argued that the search warrants for stolen good were nonetheless lawfully applied for and obtained. (No stolen goods were found, though police did seize all toothbrushes in an apparent sweep for DNA.)
- The Met’s barrister argued that the emphasis on intelligence-gathering was purely incidental and that if the warrants were lawfully applied for “I don’t accept that the police have a duty to disclose to the magistrates any incidental hunches.” He later went on to say “officers are not required to develop tunnel vision.”
- Lord Justice Richards clarified that “the purpose for which the warrant is issued is the purpose specified in the warrant” but Mr Grodzinski insisted that “the search was not and never was intended to be be limited to” the purpose of the search
- For this part of the defence the Metropolitan Police were represented by Russell Fortt
- The Met’s barrister had some time defending the raid on the Grow Heathrow squat as Commander Broadhurst had stated there was “no known link between any of the activists and the royal wedding” nonetheless the hunch that there may be was enough to apply for the search warrants.
- Mr Grodzinski argued that the police did not mislead Bromley Magistrate’s Court in applying for the warrant as “even is there was misleading information the reality is the magistrates were not misled by it.”
- Judge Lord Richards did clarify that if the intelligence the police had related to paint bombs “then it could be said that’s what the warrant should cover.”
- Despite the police seeking implements which could be used for criminal damage, they paid no attention to the many many garden tools which were at the site.
- Both the plaintiffs in this Judicial Review were searched with the apparent purpose of finding out their identities. This was nothing to do with the warrant or the paint bombs which the police were searching for. In the case of Mr Lewis his wallet was searched, and when he declined to give his name the officer told him it was illegal to possess someone else’s bank card. (This is the exact same tactic as was used on James Newman when he filmed the Starbucks Zombies being detained the next day.)
Coming up on Friday 1st of June
Replies to the Met’s barrister from barristers representing all four groups of claimants. The judges’ result won’t be immediate as there are many hundreds of pages of evidence to get through, but the judges will give some indication of when they will give their ruling.