Wednesday 20 October 2010

Wanstead Flats Campaigners Threaten Judicial Review

The Save Wanstead Flats campaign has issued a 'pre-action' warning to Home Secretary Theresa May, saying that it "reserves the right to take legal action by way of Judicial Review" against her, the Metropolitan Police, and the City of London Corporation if essential information concerning a Home Office consultation is not fully disclosed.

In a letter sent today, campaigners allege that the Metropolitan Police has failed to provide information to local residents about alternative sites it considered for an Olympic operational policing base proposed for Wanstead Flats and only limited details about the precise criteria adopted for site selection. This means the Met and the City of London Corporation, who manage the Flats on behalf of the public, have a "grossly unfair" advantage in responding to the Home Office's consultation about an as-yet unseen Legislative Reform Order to amend the law that protects the Flats from enclosure. The letter adds:

The Save Wanstead Flats Campaign would wish to make its own submissions about alternative sites considered by the Metropolitan Police and/or the Corporation and with reference to the precise criteria used by the Metropolitan Police. The Campaign does not have the resources to independently commission a survey of all possible alternative sites in the Greater London area, and indeed such an exercise would be futile without knowledge of the exact criteria and requirements the Metropolitan Police claim are essential for the choice of site. There would be no equality of arms.

Without full disclosure, the campaign says the result would therefore be "a flawed, unfair and inadequate consultation". To avoid facing future legal challenge, the Home Secretary has been asked to disclose information about alternate sites - and the criteria against which they were rejected - at least six weeks before the deadline for consultation submissions on 9 December, so that others have proper time to prepare their responses. The campaign has suggested that "if need be the consultation period should be extended".

We await Theresa May's response with interest. The threat of legal action is just one element of campaign plans to escalate opposition to the Met's proposals over the coming months - more to follow soon.

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