Tag Archives: metropolitan police

Article in the Independent on Royal Wedding Judicial Review

15 Aug

The pre-emptive action to stop dissenting voices

Article originally appeared on The Independent Blog on Friday 3rd of August 2012

Republic demonstration on the day of the jublileeOn the day of the royal wedding I was arrested for being in fancy dress. I had gone to Soho Square to report on the zombie flashmob I’d heard about on Twitter. I planned to take photos, interview people, and report on it for a friend’s zombie blog. Five of us left the area when it looked like we might be kettled. We decamped to a nearby Starbucks to drink coffee and talk zombie movies. From there we were stopped and searched, arrested, handcuffed and held in police cells for hours. The reason: police interpreted the flashmob as an anti-royalist protest.

We were arrested for a ‘breach of the peace’. Two weeks ago the High Court dismissed four separate Judicial Reviews that myself and others brought against the Metropolitan police. The stage is set for extremely heavy-handed policing over the Olympics, and the crackdown has already begun. Continue reading

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Crowd-funding legal actions

4 May

Wow. A lot of people want to see the Met in court.

I had an unpleasant surprise on Wednesday night that my legal excess bill was not small change. (The rest is covered by legal aid, but this bit is non-negotiable) and I need to pay £550 before the end of the month.

(Background to the case nicely covered by the Guardian here:)
Guardian Video

Sarah J from the Bad Reputation suggested crowd funding, so I put together a Facebook group called ‘I’ll Give Hannah a Tenner to see the Met in Court‘. I was looking for 55 people to pledge a tenner, which would be refunded (as all my legal fees would be) if I win – but if I lose the case then, sorry, thank you for your charity. It went to a good cause.

I made a group with this copy:

Hannah was arrested, handcuffed and held in a police station on the day of the royal wedding because she was dressed like a zombie (for a flashmob) which police had decided was an anti-royalist statement. She hadn’t broken any laws and was in a Starbucks, queuing to buy a coffee at the time. She and fourteen others arrested pre-emptively (i.e. illegally) have won the right to a Judicial Review.

Full details available here: http://pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com/

However, even with legal aid she’s got a few costs that can’t be shirked. She’s looking for 55 people to donate a tenner – which will be refunded if she wins the case.

And I tweeted and Facebooked it – as did my friends. I was expecting some friends to support it, and maybe even a couple of activists with… ahem… history with the Met. I was thinking even half the costs would be a huge help.

You, good people, did not disappoint. Within 24 hours I had more money pledged than I was asking for. Thank you so much, you have no idea. It’s a huge help financially, obviously – it’s also hugely heartening and touching that so many people want to help so much.

I will spend the weekend sorting out the best method of transferring money (I’ve been warned off paypal). If anyone wants to donate to this cause but has missed the boat – the wonderful Netpol – the network for police monitoring are well worth a tenner. They’re made up of amazing organisations such as the Climate Camp Legal Team, FITWatch, Green & Black Cross, the Legal Defence & Monitoring Group and Newham Monitoring Project (NPM). These guys will be supporting protest and fighting police abuses of power long after our court case has been and gone – so click on the Netpol site where you can donate.

But in the meantime, from the bottom of my heart, thank you everyone.

New website for royal wedding, jubilee and olympics policing

7 Apr

Those involved in the Judicial Review into the Metropolitan Police’s apparent policy of pre-emptive arrest have put together this website: PagentryandPrecrime.wordpress to gather all the information (Youtube videos, press releases, personal statements) etc into one place.

At the end of this month (29th) it will be one year since the royal wedding.

At the end of May (28th) the court case into the police’s illegal actions will begin.

The website aims to be a one-stop shop for interested citizens as well as journalists. Pleas spread the word!

Judicial Review of Pre-emptive Royal Wedding Arrests

11 Nov

For anyone wanting to know what happened next about the Royal Wedding/Starbucks Zombie arrests, here it is: we got organised; we found more people who’d suffered the same treatment; we found some brilliant lawyers and we’re going to have a Judicial Review into the Metropolitan Police’s Actions.

Unlike a Private or Civil Law claim (which would have been easier to achieve), this is an investigation which can and will go as high up the chain as is necessary to find out what the policies were and who made what decisions. Private or Civil Law claims would have almost certainly ended up with the police throwing some compensation money at us before we ever got to a judgement – but we, the claimants, said wasn’t about money – we wanted a proper investigation and a judgement at the end of it to set a precedent for future policing.

Today I got the news that we have been granted permission for that Judicial Review. Needless to say I am delighted. Official press release below:

Judicial Review of Preemptive Royal Wedding Arrests

Fifteen people who were arrested preemptively on the day of the Royal Wedding have been granted permission to challenge their arrests by way of Judicial Review. The claimants, who were arrested from different locations across central London, had not committed any crimes. Those arrested included people on their way to peaceful protests, as well as people the police merely suspected of being on their way to protests. None of the claimants were charged and all were released almost as soon as the public celebrations had finished.

“It is our view that the treatment of our clients was unlawful under common law and was in breach of their fundamental rights under the European Court of Human Rights articles 5, 8, 10 and 11,” said a spokesperson from Bhatt Murphy. “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.”

Those arrested include 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 and was stopped and arrested by plainclothes officers because he was a ‘known activist’. The arrests have been dubbed ‘precrime’ in many circles.

The arrests, all said to be to prevent anticipated breach of the peace, are part of a trend on the part of Metropolitan Police of using increasingly heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors, which manifested itself most recently in the threat to use rubber bullets against students protesting against the rise in tuition fees. Such tactics create a ‘chilling effect’ which dissuades others from protesting in the future.

The use of such tactics, which on the day of the royal wedding appears to have gone so far as to include a policy of carrying out preemptive arrests in order to intercept and prevent public protest and other dissent, raises questions of constitutional significance with regard to the role of policing in a democracy. The granting of permission for a Judicial Review means that those tactics will now be subject to the full scrutiny of the High Court in a 5 day hearing some time in the next year.

Bhatt Murphy is a leading civil liberties firm which specialises in police misconduct, prisoners’ rights, deaths in custody and immigration detention.