Court Case

Many of those affected decided to challenge the legality of the police’s actions. They have been granted permission for four separate Judicial Reviews which are taking place at the High Court (court 8) every day for the week of 28th May – 1st of June 2012.

The four cases are having a combined hearing due to the similar nature of their claims. All four judicial reviews are about the Metropolitan Police’s policing over the bank holiday weekend of the royal wedding. Two cases are about pre-emptive arrests, two are about police raids on squats.

The Hearing
Judicial Review 1: Pre-emptive Breach of the Peace Arrests
Judicial Review 2: Pre-emptive Criminal Damage Arrest
Judicial Review 3: Riot Police Raid on Rat Star Squat
Judicial Review 4: Riot Police Raid on Grow Heathrow Squat
Notes on the arguments
A Note on Judicial Reviews

The Hearing

The Judges overseeing the proceedings are Lord Justice Richards and Lord Openshaw

Barristers acting for the Commissioner of the Metropolis:
Sam Grodzinski
Russell Fortt

The Judicial Reviews are as follows:

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

Name of Case: R (on the application of Hicks and Others) v the Commissioner of the Metropolis
Solicitors: Bhatt Murphy
Barristers: Karon Monaghan QC
Case: Judicial Review into four different instances of pre-emptive arrests for ‘breach of the peace’ on the day of the royal wedding.

Those arrested include:

  • 9 of the Charing Cross 10 – ten republicans who were on their way to a protest who were arrested for ‘breach of the peace’. They were handcuffed, driven to a police station and held in a police yard for hours.
  • The Starbucks Zombies – who had turned up to Soho Square for a zombie flashmob and were arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ from a nearby branch of Starbucks where they’d been drinking coffee. The police took their facepaint to be an anti-monarchy statement. They were handcuffed, driven to a police station and held in police cells for hours.
  • One of the Frith Street Two – who had turned up to Soho Square for a zombie flashmob, saw it wasn’t happening and were walking away when they were stopped and searched, found in possession of a leaflet about the flashmob and arrested for ‘breach of the peace’. Both people are transgendered and were both sexually assaulted by police who subjected them to entirely unneccessary intimate pat-downs, presumably to satisfy their own curiousity. The sexual assaults are being dealt with separately.
  • One man who was greeted by name by police who was arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ because he was ‘a known activist’.

Judicial Review 2: Pre-emptive Criminal Damage Arrest

Name of Case: R (on the application of M) v the Commissioner of the Metropolis
Solicitors: Tuckers
Barristers: Alex Bailin QC
Case: The pre-emptive arrest of a 16 year old male for ‘criminal damage’ the police believed he would cause (evidence: two marker pens in his bag). He was handcuffed, arrested, had his photograph, fingerprints and DNA taken. He was held in a police cell for eight hours.

The minor (known as M) was carrying a megaphone at the time and was initially stopped by Constable Whitwell who began by asking ‘why have you got a megaphone?’ to which 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 pens in question were only found once M was stopped and searched. The search only happened when he declined to give his name and address (as he had a right to do). The Metropolitan police’s barrister claims that his arrest was not politically motivated.

Judicial Review 3: Riot Police Raid on Rat Star Squat

Case Name: R (on the application of Pearce and Golsirat) v the Commissioner of the Metropolis
Solicitors: Tuckers
Barristers: Alex Bailin QC
Case: Judicial Review into the raid on the Rat Star Squat in Camberwell the day before the royal wedding – police claimed to be looking for stolen bicycles and computers. No stolen goods were found. The heavy-handed raid, in which many windows were broken, appears to be the result of crude political profiling which assumed that squatters must be inclined towards causing a disruption.

No bike parts were seized despite there being plenty around as a bike workshop is run on the premesis. However police did take all toothbrushes from the bathrooms for DNA purposes.

The search was carried out by the Territorial Support Group (TSG – i.e. riot police) who specialise in public disorder and critical incident response. This is not normal behaviour by police searching for stolen goods. Despite not officially being 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.”

Judicial Review 4: Riot Police Raid on Grow Heathrow Squat

Case Name: R (on the application of Middleton and Lewis) v the Commissioner of the Metropolis and Bromley Magistrate’s Court
Solicitors: Bindmans solicitors
Barristers: Stephen Cragg
Case: Judicial Review into the raid on the Grow Heathrow squat at Sipson the day before the royal wedding – police claimed to be looking for paint bombs which would be used to disrupt the wedding. None were found. The heavy-handed raid appears to be the result of crude political profiling which assumed that environmentalists must be inclined towards causing a disruption.

The search was carried out by the Territorial Support Group (TSG – i.e. riot police) who specialise in public disorder and critical incident response. Despite the warrant being to search for paintbombs the police seemed more interested in learning the identities of everyone on the site.

Notes on the arguments

In the first two Judicial Reviews, the police’s barristers 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 they have been arguing that all those arrested were likely to cause an imminent breach of the peace, or in the case of M were likely to cause criminal damage imminently.

In the cases of the raids on squats to prove that the police were not acting unlawfully, the police’s barristers are arguing that there was nothing illegal about searching far beyond the remits of the search warrants.

A Note on Judicial Reviews

Unlike Private or Civil Law claims (which would have been easier to achieve), Judicial Reviews are a type of investigation which can go as high up the chain as is necessary to find out what the policies were and who made what decisions. Private or Civil Law claims would have likely resulted in an offer of compensation money before the case ever got to a judgement, but the claimants wanted a proper investigation and a judgement at the end of it to set a precedent for future policing. The claimants want to make sure that what happened to them cannot happen again.

Those involved hope to prove that there was (as the evidence seems to indicate) an over-arching policy of pre-emptive arrest that day. It is hoped that the Judicial Review will clarify that the Met’s policing of the royal wedding was illegal and that similar actions cannot be repeated.

It is especially concerning as it is believed in some circles that the royal wedding was used as a ‘dry-run’ for the policing tactics which will be used during the olympics and the jubilee in 2012.

See press releases for more details

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