Pageantry & pre-crime: Royal Wedding arrests Judicial Review begins Monday at the High Court

This Monday 28 May, sees a landmark Judicial Review begin at the High Court examining policing tactics – including the use of ‘pre-crime’ arrests – employed around last year’s Royal Wedding, which will likely impact future policing of upcoming events such as the Jubilee and the Olympics. [1]

Zombies in the Evening Standard newspaperHannah Eiseman-Renyard, one of the fifteen people granted leave to challenge their arrests by way of a Judicial Review, said: “Saturday 29 April last year was a day of contrasts. On one hand there was pageantry, celebration, pomp and ceremony as William Windsor and Kate Middleton got married. However, on the other hand, dozens of innocent people were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, handcuffed and detained for crimes which they had not committed, in an apparent attempt to silence potential dissent.”

“These ‘pre-crime’ arrests were supposedly to pre-emptively ‘prevent a breach of the peace’. In reality, they are part of a trend of increasingly heavy-handed tactics employed against peaceful protestors, aimed at creating a ‘chilling effect’ to dissuade others from protesting in the future. With this Judicial Review, we plan to challenge the validity of this style of policing and our unnecessary arrests – the use of such tactics raises questions of constitutional significance with regard to the role of policing in a democracy.”

The Judicial Review hearing will be heard with three other cases arising out of the police’s actions over the course of the Royal Wedding bank holiday weekend: two concerning raids on squats on 28 April by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service and the other arising out of another pre-emptive arrest of a minor on the day of the Royal Wedding. The 15 claimants, who were all released without charge once the public celebrations had finished, are being represented by Karon Monaghan QC and Ruth Brander. [2] The claimants in the three other cases have different legal teams.

“It is our view that the treatment of our clients was unlawful under common law and was in breach of their fundamental rights,” said a spokesperson from Bhatt Murphy, the civil liberties solicitors who are representing the claimants. “The apparent existence of an underlying policy that resulted in those arrests is a matter of considerable concern with implications for all those engaged in peaceful dissent or protest.”

Who was arrested?
Those arrested were not a cohesive group and they did not have cohesive aims. Some were people on their way to peaceful protests, others were people the police merely suspected of being protestors. Those arrested include members of the ‘Charing Cross 10’ who were on their way to a republican street party, the ‘Starbucks Zombies’ who were arrested from an Oxford Street branch of Starbucks for wearing zombie fancy dress, and a man who was simply walking in London and was arrested by plainclothes officers because he was ‘a known activist’.

Daniel Randall, one of the ‘Charing Cross 10’ arrestees, said: “The British Transport Police officer’s comment confirmed our suspicions that the police were using pre-emptive arrests as a political tactic to keep republican voices off the streets and out of the public eye.”

Erich, a Starbucks Zombie arrestee, said: “I was told by the police, ‘if you’re going to dress like that, you’ve got to expect to be arrested’. And I thought I had to break the law to be arrested.”

Notes
[1] The website Pageantry and Precrime has blog posts, accounts, and footage from various arrests on the day of the royal wedding. It aims to gather all public domain information on the court case into one place https://pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com/
[2] Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention. Karon Monaghan QC –
http://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/Members/29/Karon%20Monaghan.aspx. Ruth Brander – http://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/barristers/ruth_brander.cfm

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Posted on May 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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