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Police London-wide ban on Extinction Rebellion actions ruled unlawful

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, November 7th, 2019 - 5 comments
Categories: climate change, democracy under attack, police - Tags: , ,

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.

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Extinction Rebellion wins landmark legal challenge to Met Police ban on peaceful protest

  • The High Court rules the Metropolitan Police’s blanket ban of Extinction Rebellion protests was unlawful 
  • The landmark judgment upholds the peoples’ fundamental right to peaceful protest and prohibits the Police from any such future ban
  • Judicial review was brought on behalf of Extinction Rebellion by Baroness Jenny Jones, Caroline Lucas, Clive Lewis, David Drew, Ellie Chowns MEP, Adam Allnut and George Monbiot
  • Several hundred Extinction Rebellion protesters, arrested under the ban, could now sue the Met for wrongful imprisonment and receive compensation
  • Ruling in favour of Extinction Rebellion, the Court said: “We have held that the decision to impose the condition was unlawful…[the] decision to impose the condition on 14 October 2019 will be quashed”.

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”.

QUOTES

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.”

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Full Press Release.

5 comments on “Police London-wide ban on Extinction Rebellion actions ruled unlawful ”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    Police had already cancelled the conditions they put on the Protest 'movement'

    "Following a review carried out at 1730 hours on Friday 18th October 2019 by Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay who was Silver Commander, the condition was removed."

    https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Jones-Ors-v-Comm-of-Police-Approved-judgment.pdf

    • McFlock 1.2

      But that's not the point of the ruling. Anyone arrested under that order no longer has charges or warnings, including broccollis. Complaints about arrests are now based on the fact that the arrests were illegal. The law has been clarified so that the next XR protests won't face the same threats and abuse.

      • Dukeofurl 1.2.1

        Not what the judgement says, the Judges specifically excluded what the arrests meant. It seems that a couple of persons who were included as claimants including George Monbiot were arrested .

        From the way the Court case was held it was at Queens bench which is the Administrative division of the High Court , not the Criminal/Police arrests. In practice it may only mean those who were arrested for 'entering declared zone' would have their case dropped. While others who blocked roads etc would still be charged with public order offences.

        • McFlock 1.2.1.1

          In practice it may only mean those who were arrested for 'entering declared zone' would have their case dropped.

          Yes.

          Doing a bit of obstruction or trespass is a fine tradition of protest, and them who wants to do it know arrest will probably be the outcome.

          But the Met went well OTT with their draconian measures. That's the bit the courts stamped on, and good.

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