Category Archives: Press release
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.
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.
The trial into ‘precrime’ pre-emptive arrests and violent raids on squats will conclude at the High Court on Friday June 1st. The results could have an impact on future policing at large events such as the Olympics.
Police abused their powers during the royal wedding with the intention of stifling protest, claim the plaintiffs in four separate Judicial Reviews which are being heard together. In a hearing beginning at 10:00 AM, barristers representing four groups of claimants will make their closing arguments. They argue that the police acted unlawfully, equated protest with criminality and squats with violent disruption.
Karon Monaghan QC, acting on behalf of 15 claimants who were arrested pre-emptively ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’ said 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.”
Those arrested included four people sitting in a branch of Starbucks wearing zombie facepaint (for a flashmob) and one woman who was arrested for having a flyer about the flashmob.
Absurd and Orwellian
“The hearing has encompassed everything from the absurd to the Orwellian,” said Hannah Eiseman-Renyard, one of the claimants who was arrested for zombie fancy dress. “In the past four days the court has seen the police use an article from the Sun as evidence and heard how a raid on a squat ostensibly for stolen goods saw the police take all the toothbrushes for DNA.”
“The Met argues that every breach of the peace arrest was done for our own good before we provoked an inevitable violent reaction from royalists. Personally, I wasn’t even protesting anything. I went along for the zombie flashmob and I wound up in a police cell. It would be laughable if it weren’t so scary.”
Sam Grodzinski, the police’s barrister, said less intrusive policing, such as confiscating the flyer from one claimant wasn’t an option as “handing it over would not cleanse her of those intentions”. 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.”
For the raids on squats the police used extremely crude political profiling to conclude that people growing vegetables Grow Heathrow and mending bikes in Camberwell were intent on disrupting the wedding. Police do not deny that there was an ulterior motive for their raids, but insist that this was not unlawful. Neither the paint bombs, nor the stolen bike parts which the police had search warrants for were found.
The case will be a suspended judgement as Lord Justice Richards and Lord Openshaw consider many hundreds of pages of evidence.
The final day of the four Judicial Reviews into the Metropolitan Police’s abuses of power over the weekend of the royal wedding concludes tomorrow.
The court has heard from barristers representing all four claimants, and the Metropolitan Police’s barrister has responded. Now all that remains is a reply to the Met’s barrister, which each plaintiff’s barrister will do in turn. The hearing tomorrow is not expected to last more than around two hours, starting at 10:00 AM.
This is a great opportunity to hear short, punchy concluding arguments from barristers representing all four judicial reviews.
The hearing is at Court 8 (a relatively small court, so get there early to get a seat).
Reposted with permission from Transition Heathrow
Beginning tomorrow morning and lasting all week at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand a number of different campaign groups, squatters, lawyers and individuals including Transition Heathrow are taking the Police to court over the Royal Wedding squat raids and heavy handed policing that occurred in the run up to last years wedding.
The judicial review could have groundbreaking implications for policing of protests in the UK and is particularly important with the upcoming Olympics.
The day before the Royal Wedding, our squatted community market garden project ‘Grow Heathrow’ was raided by 40 riot police at 7am in the morning along with 4 other squats across London. Why they chose to pay us an unwelcome visit remains unclear. Our part in the court case is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon so please follow our twitter to find out how it all goes in court.
We are still incredibly angry over the disproportionate raid and act of political policing that occurred last year, lets hope the courts see sense and send out a message to the police that they cannot do anything they like to put people off political protest.
The only other big question that needs answering is: will the police be submitting as evidence the ‘dangerous vegetables’ they found that morning?
On the 29th of April 2011, as William Windsor and Kate Middleton got married, the Metropolitan Police arrested dozens of people across London pre-emptively ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’. Innocent people were arrested, handcuffed and detained for crimes which they had not committed, in an apparent attempt to silence potential dissent. The arrests have been dubbed ‘precrime’ in many circles.
Thirteen months later, 15 of those arrested been granted leave to challenge their arrests by way of a Judicial Review which will begin at the High Court on Monday 28th of May 2012. It is hoped that the results of the court case will have an impact on future policing of such events such as the Olympics, or the Diamond Jubilee which will take place immediately after the Judicial Review hearing.
Those arrested on the 29th of April 2011 were not a cohesive group and they did not have cohesive aims. Some were people on their way to peaceful protests, some 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 stopped and arrested by plainclothes officers because he was a ‘known activist’.
All of the claimants were released without charge once the public celebrations had finished.
“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.”
The Metropolitan Police’s actions over the Royal Wedding weekend are part of a trend of the police using increasingly heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors. Such tactics create a ‘chilling effect’ which dissuades others from protesting in the future. 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 April 28th 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 claimants are being represented by Karon Monaghan QC and Ruth Brander. The claimants in the three other cases have different legal teams.
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
Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention.
“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.”
– Daniel Randall, Charing Cross 10 arrestee
“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…”
– Erich, Starbucks Zombie arrestee
Judicial Review of Preemptive Royal Wedding Arrests
Fifteen people who were arrested preemptively on the day of the Royal Wedding have been granted permission to challenge their arrests by way of Judicial Review. The claimants, who were arrested from different locations across central London, had not committed any crimes. Those arrested included people on their way to peaceful protests, as well as people the police merely suspected of being on their way to protests. None of the claimants were charged and all were released almost as soon as the public celebrations had finished.
“It is our view that the treatment of our clients was unlawful under common law and was in breach of their fundamental rights under the European Court of Human Rights articles 5, 8, 10 and 11,” said a spokesperson from Bhatt Murphy. “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.”
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 stopped and arrested by plainclothes officers because he was a ‘known activist’. The arrests have been dubbed ‘precrime’ in many circles.
The arrests, all said to be to prevent anticipated breach of the peace, are part of a trend on the part of Metropolitan Police of using increasingly heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors, which manifested itself most recently in the threat to use rubber bullets against students protesting against the rise in tuition fees. Such tactics create a ‘chilling effect’ which dissuades others from protesting in the future.
The use of such tactics, which on the day of the royal wedding appears to have gone so far as to include a policy of carrying out preemptive arrests in order to intercept and prevent public protest and other dissent, raises questions of constitutional significance with regard to the role of policing in a democracy. The granting of permission for a Judicial Review means that those tactics will now be subject to the full scrutiny of the High Court in a 5 day hearing some time in the next year.
Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention.
On 29th April Queer Resistance the LGBTQI anti-cuts collective planned a Royal Zombie Wedding Celebration in Soho incorporating a picnic breakfast, performances, a zombie blessing and marriage ceremony by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence followed by a zombie flash mob through Soho.
This action, neither pro nor anti royal, was to highlight the impact of the cuts on the LGBTQI community, most notably;
· HIV care & prevention services
· Domestic violence services
· Treatment referrals for transgender people
· Hate crime prevention & victim support
· Youth homelessness prevention
· Anti-homophobic bullying work in schools
· Support to under 18s at risk of sexual exploitation
· Rape crisis services
· Disability living allowance and housing benefit
· Pride funding
The morning saw several arrests of early arrivals to the action; all were placed in cells, de-arrested and released after several hours. There was some particularly bad treatment by the police which included an alleged assault of one of the arrestees.
The group decided to persevere with the action and met in Soho Square at 12 o’clock, planning to picnic at 1pm after seeking confirmation from police that no arrests would be made for picnicing. Shortly after people had gathered at 1pm and before the performances were to take place individuals from the group spoke with police to once again confirm that no arrests would be made, the full video of this conversation is here: http://bambuser.com/channel/ronanshaun/broadcast/1615419
Approximately half an hour after this conversation the police evicted the group from Soho Square under threat of arrest, the full video of this can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zt98ys08vo&NR=1
Individuals from Queer Resistance are now in touch with legal advisers who are seeking statements from witnesses to the arrests; these should be emailed to email@example.com. Those arrested are also asked to get in touch with Queer Resistance as we are planning a full debrief session to give support to those affected, discuss further action and to learn as a group from what happened.
Queer Resistance is a collective of queers and allies from across the UK coming together to fight the cuts – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer folk. We come from all communities, backgrounds and walks of life and we share this common objective. As a group we strongly defend the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression both of which were denied to us yesterday.