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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?

Judicial Review of Preemptive Royal Wedding Arrests

11/11/2011

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.