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.
- 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.