Posts Tagged ‘Autumn Uprising’

XR defies illegal police ban

Friday, October 16th, 2020

On 6th November 2019 the High Court ruled that the ban on all protests by Extinction Rebellion in London that the Metropolitan Police had imposed on 14 October 2019 after a week of protests in XR’s ‘Autumn Uprising’ was unlawful. It was a misuse of the Public Order Act which was intended to allow police to manage protests but not to ban them, and the ‘Autumn Uprising’ was not a ‘public assembly’ as defined by the Act.

As seems often to be the case, the police had deliberately misused the law – and presumably would have taken legal advice that would have told them so. Doubtless they acted under strong political pressure from the highest levels of our government, and this can be seen as yet another case where the government has been found to be deliberately breaking the law.

XR continued to protest calling for urgent action by the government over climate breakdown, species loss and the risk of social and ecological collapse leading to mass extinction, while the government continued to fail to make any response in the Queen’s Speech outlining their programme for the year on Monday 14th October.

There had been arrests by the police when protests took place against the ban on the 14th, and the following day I photographed police warning XR activists who were gathering for the ‘No Food No Future’ protest opposite the MI5 HQ on Millbank before leaving to photograph a protest against the ban led by the Green Party which was taking place in Trafalgar Square. As well as several Green MEPs and party co-leader Sian Berry, those speaking included XR’s Rupert Read and an Irish and German MEP, and around a hundred XR campaigners came to join them. There were no arrests while I was there.

XR’s main protest against the ban came on the Wednesday, also in Trafalgar Square. While the police had ruled that even two people standing anywhere in London advocating action on climate change was an illegal assembly, several thousands had come to protest. There were a long series of speeches before XR held a general meeting in the square.

Many, including George Monbiot, had come to the event with the deliberate intention of being arrested, and after police seemed reluctant to act in Trafalgar Square they went to sit down and block traffic in Whitehall, where police made arrests for breach of the illegal ban.

In the early evening, XR held another protest outside at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp HQ at London Bridge demanding that his papers tell the truth about the climate crisis. Rather to their surprise they found that this protest was legal as the area outside the offices is private land and the illegal ban only applied to public places.

The Murdoch press has a particularly bad record of climate denial, but most of our other media are also guilty. Most of our newspapers are owned by a handful of billionaires who also have interests in fossil fuels, and even the BBC has given completely undue prominence to unqualified climate deniers and politicians in a misguided interpretation of ‘balance’ rather than reporting the overwhelming evidence of experts.

More about these protests and many more pictures on My London Diary:

XR demands Murdoch tell the truth
XR defies protest ban
Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Police impose unlawful ban

Friday, April 17th, 2020
Police remove a man who sat down on the crossing

After a week of protests by Extinction Rebellion in London, the police and their political masters decided they had had enough, and announced a London-wide ban on protests by XR across London, invoking Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

A man shows his passport at the police checkpoint on Lambeth Bridge

XR immediately accused the police of abusing the law and denying freedom of speech and questioned the legality of the police ban, beginning a legal challenge. Firstly that Section 14 was intended to allow police to manage protest and not to ban it and secondly that it could not be applied to XR’s ‘Autumn Rebellion’ as this was not a ‘public assembly’ in the terms laid down in the Act.

Police escort a JCB on its way to destroy the XR camp at Vauxhall

The order was imposed on 14 October, but the law works relatively slowly and it was only on 6 November that the High Court made an unequivocal judgement that the Met had acted unlawfully.

A police officer watches as Sian Berry speaks and MEPs Gina Dowding & Molly Scott Cato hold posters

Lord Justice Sedley observed:

“In a free society all must be able to hold and articulate views, especially views with which many disagree. Free speech is a hollow concept if one is only able to express “approved” or majoritarian views. It is the intolerant, the instinctively authoritarian, who shout down or worse suppress views with which they disagree”

It appears to have become standard procedure for police to make up and enforce their own versions of the law and to make arrests, often with no real possibility of any charge ever being brought. Sometimes their intent is clearly to impose bail conditions to restrict people’s activity for prolonged periods of time, and at times it simply seems a form of harassment, holding people for perhaps ten or twelve hours before releasing them in the middle of the night miles from their homes often without proper clothing and their possessions retained as ‘evidence’.

I hope the hundreds of protesters arrested for breach of this unlawful ban are pursuing their claims for false imprisonment, which could cost the Met millions, though of course that only means us taxpayers picking up the bill for the Bill.

XR protesters came to defy the ban on protests

After a slow start to the XR ‘No Food No Future‘ protest outside MI5 on Millbank where police restricted the movements of many not involved in the protest as well as searching activists and making an arrest I left to photograph a protest by politicians, mainly from the Green Party against the unreasonable ban on protest and freedom of speech. Although there were several hundred people in the square defying the ban, police made no arrests, perhaps because of the involvement of a number of MEPs and other politicians.

Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.