Category Archives: Court Write-Up
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.
Day three saw the rest of the barrister Stephen Cragg speaking on behalf of the Grow Heathrow claimants whose squat was searched by riot police the day before the royal wedding, and then the barrister Sam Grodzinski representing the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police began his response to all four Judicial Reviews.
Note: the court case was anticipated to last a full five days, but seems to be running slightly ahead of schedule. At this rate it may either end towards the end of the day on Thursday, or early on Friday morning.
The Fourth Judicial Review: Raid on the Grow Heathrow Encampment
- Continuing from yesterday Stephen Cragg acting for Bindmans solicitors represented the residents of Grow Heathrow – a community gardens project on the site of former plant nursery in Sipson. It grows herbs, vegetables, and runs art workshops and bike workshops. It is well-loved by the community. It was raided on the 27th of April (the day before the royal wedding) by TSG riot police.
- Previous to the search warrant being issued there was no evidence that the anyone on site was involved in any plan to disrupt or protest about the royal wedding. However, apparently working on a gut-feeling. However, Commander Broadhurst, Gold Command for the policing of the royal wedding, stated “I’ve got some fears there are some people on the premises who may disrupt the royal wedding.”
- The police were acting, Mr Cragg said, on extremely crude political profiling “there’s a link being made that simple because the people in the camp were left wing or environmental that they were people who would disrupt the royal wedding.”
- The warrant for the search was only for paint bombs (light bulbs filled with paint). None were found.
- The 2 hour raid was unnecessarily heavy-handed. Residents were pushed and shoved, no one was shown a search warrant for over 40 minutes. Police (with a warrant only relating to paint bombs) searched people’s wallets – indicating that the true purpose of the search was for information on individuals.
- In both this case and the raids on the Camberwell squat – the warrants for the search were not returned to the Magistrate’s court, rendering the searches unlawful.
The Barrister Acting for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Replies
Barrister Sam Grodzinski responded 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.
Mr Grodzinski set the scene that the policing operation was a large one and came in the aftermath of the student demonstrations of 2010. The police’s barrister has to argue that the Met did not equate protest with illegality and that there was no unlawful policy of pre-emptive arrests. Therefore, to argue that the arrests were lawful he has to argue that all those arrested were likely to cause an imminent breach of the peace.
- Police documents admitted there was a “contingency mass arrest to prevent a breach of the peace” but the Met’s barrister insisted this was “not to prevent protest.”
- Commander Broadhurst referred, in his witness statement, to an article from the Sun as evidence that a large scale disruption was planned.
- The interview Commander Jones gave on the World at One (in which she stated that there are “364 other days” which people can protest on) – the defence insisted this did not indicate that the police were opposed to protest that day.
- Defence quoted another case which held that “the mere existence of an unlawful policy is not enough” the policy has to be material to the decision.
- The definition of breach of the peace which the police were using was not that those arrested were likely to breach the peace, but that the police believed the actions they were likely to carry out would have provoked others (i.e. royalists) to a ‘not wholly unreasonable’ violent response.
- Though the police have a duty to facilitate protest this is “subject to what is realistically achievable” the police’s barrister insists that facilitating their protest (or, in the case of the zombies, what was believed to be a protest) was impossible on the day, therefore arresting the Charing Cross 10 and the Starbucks Zombies was apparently the only option available to the police.
- Police documents drafted by Commander Broadhurst state “we accept that protest may involve some degree of disruption … but there is a world of difference between disruption and a situation which has descended or may descend into a breach of the peace.” However, Lord Justice Richard (the lead judge on this case) pointed out to the Met’s barrister that this “may not be an entirely valid distinction” between peaceful protest on one hand and disruption on the other.
- The defence repeatedly insists that both the Charing Cross 10 and the Starbucks Zombies were likely to provoke others, that the crowds were nearby, and that the police had cause to believe they were ruthless, determined and intent on disruption.
- Regarding the Charing Cross 10 the police seemed especially concerned about the ‘climbing equipment’ (one climbing helmet used as a bike helmet) which one person had on their person. Inspector Bethal stated “I also thought it was highly likely other climbing equipment had been concealed nearby”. This fictional stash of climbing equipment and the possibility, pulled out of thin air, that the Charing Cross 10 were apparently planning on scaling buildings, was one of the main parts of the police’s argument.
- The claimant’s barrister insisted on Monday that the police had many options open to them, such as confiscating placards, or asking the people to disperse. The Met’s barrister on Wednesday insisted “the idea that there was some proportionate response other than arrest is fanciful”
- The Met’s barrister asked that the police’s descisions be “seen through the operational prism” and not with the wisdom of hindsight.
- In the case of the Starbucks zombies the fact that they had left Soho Square was seen as evidence that they were “moving towards the footprint of the royal wedding”. They had left Soho Square to avoid what looked like a police kettle forming and had only stopped less than a minute away in the location B on this map.
Coming up on Thursday the 31st:
Thursday in court (from 10:00 AM onwards) will see the conclusion of the Met’s barrister’s defence in all four cases, and the beginning of the response arguments from the barristers acting on behalf of the claimants in all four cases.
Firstly a clarification: the format for the four judicial reviews is not as stated in the post on the first day of the trial. In fact the barristers representing the plaintiffs will each make their cases, then the barristers acting for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police will respond to all of them, starting with the most recent and ending with the first one. Then the barristers acting for the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond.
Tuesday 29th May – Day Two in Court
This was a packed day which saw evidence from all four Judicial Reviews.
The First Judicial Review: 15 Pre-emptive Arrests for Breach of the Peace
- It began with the first Judicial Review about 15 people arrested pre-emptively for breach of the peace (R (on the application of Hicks & Others) V the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis). Karon Monaghan QC showed video evidence of the stop and search and eventual arrest of the Charing Cross 10. The first video is available here. The second is here.
- Ms Monaghan summed up with arguments relating to articles 5 and 8 of the European Court of Human Rights and brought up the fact that the detentions appeared to be punitive. “The intention was not to bring them to court, it was simply to remove them from the streets.”
The Second Judicial Review: Minor Arrested Pre-Emptively for Criminal Damage
- The second JR concerned a minor (known as M) who was 16 years old at the time. He was stopped by police while walking towards Soho Square carrying a megaphone. He was searched and subsequently arrested pre-emptively for criminal damage when police found two permanent markers in his bag. The minor had his DNA, fingerprints and photographs taken and he was held for eight hours. Eventually he was released without charge as, according to the police, “there was no evidence to suggest he would commit an offence.”
- While the facts were not in dispute that the minor had two pens, a bulging backpack and a megaphone on his person, the stories from the police officers who arrested him varied. Initially the officers’ notebooks and the reports which they filled out mentioned the minor’s megaphone and his stated intention to protest and a ‘rude and obnoxious’ demeanor as the reason why they searched him. However, in their subsequent statements the officers had claimed it was M’s bulging backpack which had raised their suspicions as they feared it could contain rocks or spray paint.
- It emerged that there were ‘anti-demonstration patrols’ of police going up and down Oxford Street on the day of the royal wedding.
- The difference in the earlier and later accounts given by the officers was so large that the officers in question were called to the witness stand. Their testimony did not particularly clarify the facts. The barrister mentioned it was unusual that Constable Whitwell’s memory of the incident appeared to grow better and more complex as time went on.
- In his testimony Constable Whitwell said he initially approached M asking ‘why have you got a megaphone’. M responded ‘I want to express my opinion, it’s my right to do so’. Whitwell stated that “to my mind this was very strange.” Constable Whitwell’s written statement mentioned that “a megaphone is not normally a tool for peaceful, non-provocative protest.”
- The court was shown footage taken by a concerned passer-by of the minor’s arrest. The minor was in handcuffs, in tears, repeatedly stating “I didn’t do anything” while the passerby asked the police on why the minor was under arrest. The passerby, hearing the police’s reasons, reacted with audible disbelief and dubbed the police’s actions ‘precrime’.
The Third Judicial Review: Raid on a Squat in Camberwell
- A squat in Camberwell was raided by the Territorial Support Group (TSG – i.e. riot police) on April 27th 2011 – the day before the royal wedding. Despite not being officially anything to do with the royal wedding the Metropolitan Police’s Gold Commander (officer in charge of the policing of the royal wedding) had received regular updates about the raid, and stated to the media at midday on the 27th that he was “relieved that no evidence of a conspiracy to disrupt the royal wedding had been uncovered.”
- The TSG police officers who carried out the search were briefed by the royal wedding police team and instructed by commander Broadhurst and Commander Johnson who both held key roles in the policing of the royal wedding.
- The search warrant was for stolen goods – specifically bicycles and computers. However no bike parts were seized – despite there being plenty around as a bike workshop was run on the property.
- The items which were seized included computers, all toothbrushes from the bathrooms, and flyers about a zombie themed event in Soho Square on the day of the royal wedding (which were taken directly to the silver command officer). It was not in dispute that the toothbrushes were taken to obtain DNA.
- “We are asking the court to draw inferences on what the motivations were of the police during the searches” the plaintiff’s barrister stated.
- The police do not deny that there was an ulterior motive to the searches, or that the sole reason for the timing of the search was the royal wedding, but they insist that gathering intelligence on what they believed to be an extremist group was not the dominant motive, therefore it was not unlawful.
- The plaintiff’s barrister argued that evidence gathering was the dominant motive but that the police did not have enough information to apply for a warrant on that basis, so the stolen goods was a cover story. (No stolen goods were recovered.)
The Fourth Judicial Review: Police Raid on Grow Heathrow Squat
Grow Heathrow is a community gardens project on the site of former plant nursery. It grows herbs, vegetables, and runs art workshops and bike workshops. It is well-loved by the community. It was also raided on the 27th of April (the day before the royal wedding) by TSG riot police. The claimants in this Judicial Review are represented by Bindmans solicitors with Stephen Cragg as their barrister. This case didn’t get very long before the court broke up for the day.
- It was pointed out that geographically this had very little to do with the royal wedding.
- The reason for the search was intelligence/a suspicion about the royal wedding. The police were searching for paintbombs (glass bulbs filled with paint). None were found
- As at the Camberwell squat, none of the residents had any intention to go to either the royal wedding or anti-royal wedding demonstrations.
- Up to 40 officers arrived with a “surprising show of force”. When the residents asked to see search warrants they were grabbed and pushed. No one saw any warrants for over 40 minutes.
Coming up on Wednesday the 30th:
Wednesday in court (from 10:00 AM onwards) will see the conclusion of the Grow Heathrow Judicial Review and the beginning of the police’s defence for all four cases.
Monday 28th was the first day of what’s set to be a five day hearing with judges Lord Justice Richard and Lord Openshaw. The hearing will encompass four Judicial Reviews which are:
- one Judicial Review into the pre-emptive arrests for ‘breach of the peace’ on the day of the royal wedding
- one Judicial Review into the pre-emptive arrest of a minor for ‘criminal damage’ the police believed he would cause (evidence: two pens)
- one Judicial Review into the raid on the Grow Heathrow squat the day before the royal wedding – for which a supposed link to rupublican extremism was the excuse
- one Judicial Review into another raid on a squat in Camberwell for which – again – a supposed link to left wing extremism was the excuse given.
The first, and largest, Judicial Review is expected to take two days.
On Monday 28th of May Karon Monaghan QC, representing the arrestees, set out her arguments:
In the morning she set out the framework of other cases involving protest, dissent, and arrests and stated that the police’s actions on the day of the royal wedding demonstrated a ‘self-evident policy which equated the intention to protest with criminal conduct’. She stated that ‘what it [this case] not about it the right to protest being absolute – it is not’ but that on the day of the royal wedding the police acted with an ‘impermissably low threshold of tolerance’ which had the effect of ‘the suppression of a dissenting voice’.
- ‘The fact that others may take part in criminal conduct does not mean that my clients lose their right to free expression or their assembly rights … an individual assessment must be made.’
- It was brought up that the state is not merely under a negative obligation to not prevent public protest – it may be under a positive obligation to actively facilitate protest.
- In all the cases the violence which police claimed they feared would soon breach the peace was violence which coming from provoked monarchists – therefore the police were under a specific obligation to facilitate any intention to protest.
- Mentioned the ruling of Lord Roger on a breach of the peace case – when Lord Roger concluded that ‘Police must take no more steps than is necessary to prevent it [a breach of the peace]’ therefore the police – by handcuffing and arresting protestors instead of, say, asking them to go away – acted disproportionately.
- In the afternoon Karon Monaghan QC went through the individual cases of pre-emptive arrest one by one.
- None of the officers went through the process or came to the conclusions necessary to affect a legal arrest – they were simply acting on the instructions of their superiors.
- Police officers aren’t simply employees. Each officer’s authority comes directly from the crown and each officer is individually accountable for their actions – therefore it’s unlawful for an officer to fetter their own discretion.
Coming up on Tuesday 29th:
- Arguments related to articles 5 and 8 of the European Court of Human Rights
- The video of the Charing Cross 10’s arrests will be played
- The barrister acting for the Metropolitan Police will begin.