Precrime Court Case Concludes Friday Morning

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.

Media Update: Final day tomorrow

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).

Day 3 of the Trial

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.

Day 2 of the Trial

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.”

Alex Bailin QC acting for Tuckers solicitors, represented both the second and third Judicial Reviews and they were presented side-by side. They have been split out here for clarity.

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.

The case has been reported everywhere from the BBC to the Morning Star to the Daily Mail.

Under the media tab there is an in the news section which we are updating daily with all the coverage. Check it out.

Day 1 of the Trial

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.

Press release from Transition Heathrow: Royal wedding raids

Reposted with permission from Transition Heathrow

the high court - royal courts of justiceBeginning 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?

Pageantry & pre-crime: Royal Wedding arrests Judicial Review begins Monday at the High Court

This Monday 28 May, sees a landmark Judicial Review begin at the High Court examining policing tactics – including the use of ‘pre-crime’ arrests – employed around last year’s Royal Wedding, which will likely impact future policing of upcoming events such as the Jubilee and the Olympics. [1]

Zombies in the Evening Standard newspaperHannah Eiseman-Renyard, one of the fifteen people granted leave to challenge their arrests by way of a Judicial Review, said: “Saturday 29 April last year was a day of contrasts. On one hand there was pageantry, celebration, pomp and ceremony as William Windsor and Kate Middleton got married. However, on the other hand, dozens of innocent people were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, handcuffed and detained for crimes which they had not committed, in an apparent attempt to silence potential dissent.”

“These ‘pre-crime’ arrests were supposedly to pre-emptively ‘prevent a breach of the peace’. In reality, they are part of a trend of increasingly heavy-handed tactics employed against peaceful protestors, aimed at creating a ‘chilling effect’ to dissuade others from protesting in the future. With this Judicial Review, we plan to challenge the validity of this style of policing and our unnecessary arrests – 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 28 April 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 15 claimants, who were all released without charge once the public celebrations had finished, are being represented by Karon Monaghan QC and Ruth Brander. [2] The claimants in the three other cases have different legal teams.

“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.”

Who was arrested?
Those arrested were not a cohesive group and they did not have cohesive aims. Some were people on their way to peaceful protests, others 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 arrested by plainclothes officers because he was ‘a known activist’.

Daniel Randall, one of the ‘Charing Cross 10’ arrestees, said: “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.”

Erich, a Starbucks Zombie arrestee, said: “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.”

Notes
[1] 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 https://pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com/
[2] Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention. Karon Monaghan QC –
http://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/Members/29/Karon%20Monaghan.aspx. Ruth Brander – http://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/barristers/ruth_brander.cfm

Court Case into Royal Wedding Arrests Starts at the High Court on Monday

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.
.

Further Information:

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
https://pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com/

Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention.

Karon Monaghan QC
Ruth Brander

Quotes:

“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