Thursday 24 May 2012

Royal Wedding ‘Pre-Crime’ Detention Faces Judicial Review

On 29 April last year, the day of the Royal Wedding, the Metropolitan Police arrested, handcuffed and detained dozens of people across London pre-emptively 'to prevent a breach of the peace', a crime that none of them had actually committed.

These arrests were an apparent attempt to silence a disparate group of republican and anti-monarchist dissent, which included activists Chris Knight, Camilla Power and Patrick Macroidan who planned to stage a mock execution of an effigy of Prince Andrew as a piece of street theatre In Soho. Others were people the police merely suspected of being protestors. 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 was stopped and arrested by plain-clothes officers because he was a ‘known activist’. All of the claimants were released without charge once the public celebrations had finished.
“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
The Metropolitan Police’s actions over the Royal Wedding weekend reflect the increasingly heavy-handed ‘total policing’ tactics against all peaceful protestors, which appear to deliberately seek to dissuade people from exercising their right to free speech or to avoid participation in protest altogether.

However, fifteen of the Royal Wedding ‘precrime’ detainees have been granted leave to challenge their arrests by way of a judicial review next Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice. If they succeed in persuading the court that their arrest and detention was unlawful, it may prevent the use of pre-emptive arrests and detention during the Diamond Jubilee weekend and this summer’s Olympics.

Commenting on the judicial review, civil liberties solicitors Bhatt Murphy, who are representing the claimants, said:
“It is our view that the treatment of our clients was unlawful under common law and was in breach of their fundamental rights. 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 judicial review hearing will include 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 Metropolitan Police officers and the other arising out of another pre-emptive arrest of a minor on the day of the Royal Wedding itself.

For further information visit the Pageantry and Precrime website

Random Blowe | Original articles licensed under a Creative Commons License.