Tag Archives: court case

Why I sought judicial review of the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate fishing expeditions

27 Jun

By Susannah Mengesha

Source: @keithPP

Kettled protestors on November 30th. Photo by KeithPP

This month I was thrilled to receive successful decision on my judicial review case against the Police Commissioner regarding the police use of Kettling for indiscriminate intelligence gathering purposes.

The court held that the police must not demand protesters to give their name, address and date of birth, and demand that they be filmed, as the price for leaving a kettle. Continue reading

A disturbing judgement on undercover policing

22 Jan

Mark Kennedymarco4

The High Court ruled last week on how the judiciary will deal with allegations of sexual abuse brought against undercover police officers who had infiltrated activist groups. The judgement was a disturbing one, as much for the attitudes it displayed as for the final decision that was reached. In his written judgement Judge Tugendhat compared undercover cops to James Bond, and suggested that ‘everyone in public life’ would assume that undercover roles would include sexual activity. His attitude bore a worrying resemblance to that of Bernard Hogan Howe, who angered campaigners by stated that police having sex while in an undercover role was ‘almost inevitable’. Continue reading

Arrest without crime – the truth of a royal wedding overreaction

20 Jul

Repost from the Guardian, written by Hannah Eiseman-Renyard

The high court has ruled that 15 pre-emptive arrests were not unlawful, as the criminalisation of protest continues

On the day of the royal wedding I was arrested for a fictional breach of the peace. This week the high court has ruled that there was nothing unlawful about the police’s actions.

Four people in zombie fancy dress outside Belgravia Police stationI was in fancy dress on the day. That was it. One minute I was in a Starbucks near Soho Square with four other people who’d come for a zombie flashmob. Four hours later I emerged from a police cell with handcuff marks still visible on my wrists. If it can happen to a boring, middle-class white girl like me, it can happen to anyone.

The Metropolitan police decided the gathering (an alternative celebration organised by Queer Resistance) was a demonstration against the royal family – therefore we were arrested. I had come to Soho Square to report on the flashmob for a friend’s zombie blog. I had no political aims whatsoever – but it seems the police’s assumptions about my politics were grounds enough to arrest and detain me until the public celebrations were over. Continue reading

February Policing Round-Up – Part One: Court and Policy updates

19 Mar

Domestic Extremism

A Judicial Review was brought by John Catt on February 9th to challenge the lawfulness his entry onto a ‘domestic extremism database’. , The veteran peace activist, who has no criminal convictions, and is often seen sketching on protests has 66 entries on a secretive database run by the National Domestic Extremism Unit(NDEU). The NDEU now operates as part of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism command.
The majority of the entries concern his association with protests against the EDO factory in Brighton, which manufactures arms components, although an estimated 15% of the entries relate to other protests both in Brighton and around the UK.

The police also admitted to having retained, but recently deleted, John Catt’s photograph. Yet they continued to maintain justification for the retention of personal information about Mr Catt, including his appearance, his movements and details of his car.

HMIC recently criticised the units handling and retention of data in their report on undercover policing, finding, “the rationale for recording and retaining the intelligence was not strong enough”. This was dismissed by the Met in court as ‘not applicable’ to the current case.

Judgement is still awaited.

Facebook riot cases

Another man has been cleared of encouraging rioting or looting via Facebook during the August’s riots. A jury took just 90 minutes to agree that Christopher Milligan’s post did not amount to ‘intentionally encouraging or assisting rioting’.

Milligan is the fourth man to have been acquitted by a jury for writing on Facebook. His fate differs markedly from that of Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, who were jailed last year for making very similar comments. Both men had pleaded guilty to encouraging crime in their home towns, although there were no outbreaks of disorder in either location.

Dale Farm – Production Order

Essex police obtained a production order, after a fiercely contested case at Chelmsford Crown Court, forcing journalists present at the Dale Farm eviction to hand over to un-broadcast footage. Judge Gratwick ignored serious concerns put forward by journalists, and found a ‘clear and compelling case for disclosure’.

The police are demanding all footage taken by the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4 as well as freelance filmmaker, Jason Parkinson. The NUJ has stated its intention to appeal the decision to the High Court.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is an attack on press freedom and turns photographers, videographers and journalists into potential targets. Journalists are not there to carry out investigatory work for the police.”

John Domokos, video producer for Guardian.co.uk said: “We are very concerned about this production order as we believe it will not only seriously jeopardise his safety and ability to cover future events of this nature, but also affect the safety and impartiality of all video journalists.” Continue reading

February Policing Round-up – Part Two: the policing of protest

19 Mar

The following are brief reports on the policing of various protests taking place in February, primarily based on the observations of police monitors. If you were a participant in any of these protest, or any others, and feel you can add to what is said below, please get in touch with us on info@networkforpolicemonitoring.org.uk.

The policing of EDL demonstrations

Muslim youth kettled in Leicester

A senior youth and community worker has called for an enquiry into the policing of the EDL protest on 4th February addressing why there was a disproportionate policing of one section of the community, and the impact this will have on further marginalising Muslim young people in the political system.

Saqib Deshmukh, who is one of the key organisers in the Justice for Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah campaign, made the call after groups of young Muslims were kettled whilst EDL members were free to wander through the town.

Saqib also criticised the use of the Children Act to deter young people from taking part in lawful protest against the far right group. Leaflets produced by Leicestershire constabulary, warning that under 18’s could be picked up by police and ‘taken to a place of safety’, were distributed to every secondary school pupil in the city.

Leicester police kettle Muslim youth

The EDL and BNP in Hyde Manchester

The British National Party and the English Defence League also held a rally / march in Hyde, Manchester on 25th February, ostensibly in response to a perceived race attack on a white man in the city.

Police cordons had been set up, but police monitors reported that police allowed a car of EDL to pass through police lines and head towards a local mosque where the local community had congregated. The incident was minor, but raised tensions. A further flashpoint occurred when a group of EDL supporters broke through police lines to taunt Muslims from a distance of around 50 yards. Continue reading

European Court of Human Rights – Kettling is Legal

15 Mar

From Freedom Newspaper

The European Courts of Human Rights has ruled today that the UK police tactic of kettling protesters is lawful and does not infringe in article 5 of Convention on Human Rights – the right to liberty and security.

The judgment was based on a case brought before the courts by protesters who were kettled in Oxford Circus in central London for over seven hours during the 2001 Mayday anti-capitalist protests. More than 1,500 were detained without access to food water or toilet facilities by police for a fear of ‘beach of the peace’ despite there being no major outbreaks of violence during the day of protest. Previously the police did not have the power to detain people against their will unless it was for arrest purposes. The European courts have now given the police the green light to deprive individuals of their liberty – even if they have done nothing illegal or committed a crime, for long periods of time under ‘public order’ tactics.

David Pannick QC, who represented the police argued “kettling” did not violate the human rights code. He said the code’s guarantee of liberty – except for individuals lawfully held in criminal matters – was not meant to concern “mere restrictions of movement”.

The court stated: “The police had imposed the cordon to isolate and contain a large crowd in dangerous and volatile conditions. This had been the least intrusive and most effective means to protect the public from violence. Although the police tried to start dispersing the crowd throughout the afternoon, they had been unable to do so as the danger had persisted.” Continue reading

Blanket ban on protests lifted following threat of High Court action

12 Sep

[Press release from Christian Khan Solicitors]

The Metropolitan Police today applied to the Home Secretary for consent to lift a blanket ban on protest marches in four East London boroughs to allow a march against the world’s largest arms fair to go ahead on Wednesday 14 September 2011, following a threat to bring legal proceedings challenging the lawfulness of the ban.

Taherali Gulamhussein, a protestor and volunteer with the Network for Police Monitoring, last week instructed Kat Craig of Christian Khan Solicitors to send a Letter before Action challenging the 30-day blanket ban on protests imposed on all marches in five London boroughs, namely Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest, and Newham.

The decision to vary the ban, which had been applied for by the Metropolitan Police under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, came one minute before a deadline given by Mr Gulamhussein’s lawyers to cancel or vary the ban, or be taken to the High Court tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. The ban has now been lifted in all boroughs except Tower Hamlets.

Mr Gulamhussein challenged the ban when he realised that a march he wished to attend, organised by the University of East London Students’ Union to the Excel Centre in East London in protest against the arms trade, would be prohibited. He said:

“There appears to be an increasing and worrying tendency by the state to attempt to silence legitimate opposition in the form of peaceful protest.” Continue reading

Why Calls To Ban Demonstrations Are Dangerously Shortsighted

26 Aug

Image of anti-cuts protestors on the student demo. Police in riot gear are also visible. The students have placards with slogans such as 'stop education cuts' and 'f**k fees'Student demonstrators arrested at last years protests have been convicted without sufficient evidence, and have been subjected to disproportionate sentences according to legal support activists.

Samuel Pepper Sharp, age 24 from Scarborough, was last week found guilty of aggravated trespass at the Millbank Tower on November 10th 2010. Students had occupied the Conservative headquarters in protest at the increase in student fees. Samuel was convicted despite an absence of evidence that he had done anything other than simply being in the building. Mere trespass is not, under UK law, a criminal offence.

The judgement, given by District Judge Snow in Westminster magistrates court, suggested there was an assumption of ‘collective guilt’ rather than a decision based on Samuels own actions. In fact, the only substantive evidence against Samuel was a witness statement from his arresting officer, which stated he was arrested in the reception area of 30 Millbank.

Some protestors have said they were carried into the foyer that day by the force of the large crowd surging forward, and that police then prevented them from leaving the building for reasons of ‘health and safety’, as police struggled to contain the demonstration around Millbank.

Taherali Gulamhussein, from the Network for Police Monitoring, stated that the convictions were a “watering down of the requirement to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt”. Continue reading

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