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Day five saw barristers acting on behalf of all four groups of claimants made their final arguments in response to the Met’s barrister, Sam Grodzinski‘s case the day before.
First Stephen Cragg acting for Bindmans solicitors on behalf of the Grow Heathrow squat which was raided by riot police the day before the wedding.
- He pointed out that the raid was not about the fictional paint bombs which police had warrants for, it was about searching for Operation Brontide suspects who had committed criminal damage acts at earlier demonstrations. There was no evidence to link the suspects to the side, but officers were acting on “Commander Broadhurst’s hunch.”
- “The two Operation Brontide officers on the site then went on to the Camberwell site”
- If police were genuinely seeking to disrupt potential criminal damage before it happened it was odd that they left all the many tools which were around in the working gardens, but instead searched people’s wallets for their ID.
Alex Bailin QC acting for Tuckers solicitors and M the minor arrested for ‘criminal damage’ for having two pens in his backpack as well as plaintiffs from the Rat Star squat in Camberwell argued that the absence of any unlawful policy on paper in the Met’s planning documents did not disprove that there was an unlawful policy in practice “It’s quite possible to have a mock policy on paper which is still applied badly.”
- Despite PC Morgan’s statement that “police will facilitate peaceful protest in Soho Square” it was recorded that M had a “map to an illegal protest” and PC Whitwell’s statement reads “I suspected he intended to protest”.
- Alex Bailin stated “We know the statement said ‘illegal protest’ and we know the officer’s EAB [notebook] said ‘intended to protest’. If you put these together you can infer what the policy was on the ground.”
- “We invite the court to infer that the stop and search was based on the basis of the megaphone” and he went on the conclude that the “arrest in M’s case was not necessary … there were alternatives which were not fairly considered.”
Regarding the raids on the Rat Star squat Bailin stated
- “The existence of an ulterior motive during the execution of the warrant is admitted by the defendant but he says it was not the dominant purpose. We say it was.”
- Commander Broadhurst had admitted he planned “to time the arrests to that any unlawful activity or individuals could be detained in time for thew royal wedding.”
“We submit that the court should look at all the matters in the round”
To finish proceedings Karon Monaghan QC spoke, acting for Bhatt Murphy solicitors and the 15 people arrested pre-emptively for breach of the peace.
- She referenced judgements reached by the European Court of Human Rights that “even where the nature of the speech is repugnant to most right-thinking people there is an obligation on the state to facilitate.”
- A lawful arrest for breach of the peace must be to prevent an imminent breach of the peace. While the Met have argued that this term must be considered in the context of a busy capitol city, Monaghan replied that “while we acknowledge that the question of imminence is a flexible one … it cannot be viewed so flexibly as to fail the reasonableness test.”
- She rebuffed the Met’s “claim that somehow warning the claimants would have been dangerous and fanciful … there was no reason to believe that asking them to go home or asking them to move away would not have been complied with … the least instrusive means should be adopted to prevent a breach of the peace. There ought not to be an assumption made but an individual assessment”
- She stated the police’s actions were “indicative of a policy of rounding up those who might be seen to be causing trouble.”
- In the case of the ‘known activist’ arrested for walking towards Trafalgar Square “if those are reasonable grounds it’s difficult to see how he can ever attend a large scale public event. It’s an ASBO without the protection an ASBO would have.” From the claimant’s custody record “it is clear that he’s simply being detained for the purposes of keeping him out of the way.”
- Ms Monaghan finished by inviting the Judges to look at the police officer’s EAB notebooks again to get a picture of what the policy – official or otherwise – looked like when communicated to officers on the ground.
The final day of the hearing was wrapped up before midday. However, due to the many hundreds of pages of evidence, the hearing did not have an immediate judgement. The Judges overseeing the proceedings – Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Openshaw – indicated that they’ll give their judgement in late June at the earliest – so July is probably a safer estimate.
We’ll keep you posted.