The Guardian reports
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday morning, Mr Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain said the section 14 order imposed during XR’s “autumn uprising” in October was unlawful.
Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if coordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of … the Act.
“The XR autumn uprising intended to be held from 14 to 19 October was not therefore a public assembly … therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under … the Act.”
However, the judges noted there are powers within the Act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point’.”
Background to the Autumn Uprising and police ban in Extinction Rebellion blanket ban chilling and unlawful.
Extinction Rebellion wins landmark legal challenge to Met Police ban on peaceful protest
November 06, 2019 by Zoe Blackler
In their judgment, the Court agreed with Extinction Rebellion’s lawyers that: “the language of Section 14(1) itself makes clear that there is no power to prohibit rather than merely impose conditions on gatherings that have not yet begun”.
Ellie Chowns, a Green MEP arrested while the ban was in place, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have won this very important case, defending the right to peaceful assembly and public protest. The judgment in our favour shows that the police clearly overstepped the mark when they imposed a blanket ban on any XR related protest. It was clearly ridiculous to arrest me for simply standing in Trafalgar Square, a pedestrianised public space. This judgment upholds the right to peaceful assembly and protest, a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.”
Clive Lewis, from the Labour Party, said: “Peaceful protest is an essential guarantor of a free and democratic society, so I welcome today’s judgment. Extinction Rebellion is sounding the alarm about the climate and ecological emergency. Rather than trying to block our ears by shutting down their protests, we should be reacting to the danger they’re alerting us to. Averting that danger requires urgent and radical change, not the criminalisation of peaceful protest.”
Jules Carey of Bindmans LLP the Claimants’ solicitors said: “The ban was hastily imposed, erratically applied and has now been unequivocally declared unlawful by the High Court. The police have powers to impose conditions to manage protests but not to ban them. This judgment is a timely reminder to those in authority facing a climate of dissent; the right to protest is a long standing fundamental right in a democratic society that should be guarded, not prohibited by overzealous policing.”
Kevin Blowe, Coordinator of Netpol, a group that monitors the policing of protest, said: “The police acted beyond their authority and we want to see senior officers held accountable for this extraordinary abuse of power. No matter how much pressure it faces from the government, the Met must now drastically rethink how it meets its legal obligation to facilitate and protect the rights of Extinction Rebellion to protest in the future.”