Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pre-emptive arrests planned for Olympics

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 5 of the Trial

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.

First Stephen Cragg acting for Bindmans solicitors on behalf of the Grow Heathrow squat which was raided by riot police the day before the wedding.

  • 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”

To finish proceedings Karon Monaghan QC spoke, acting for Bhatt Murphy solicitors and the 15 people arrested pre-emptively for breach of the peace.

  • 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.

Day 4 of the Trial

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.

Judicial Review 1: Pre-emptive Breach of the Peace Arrests

  • 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.

Judicial Review 2: Pre-emptive Criminal Damage Arrest

  • 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.

Judicial Review 3: Riot Police Raid on Rat Star Squat

  • 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

Judicial Review 4: Riot Police Raid on Grow Heathrow Squat

  • 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.