November 24, 2015

Liberty press release: Mayor of London faces judicial review over Parliament Square fencing

N.B. there was no attempt at Judicial review back in 2007, when under the then Mayor of London Ken Livingston,Parliament Square was fenced off between August and October 2007

Mayor of London faces judicial review over Parliament Square fencing
24 November 2015

Liberty's client will tomorrow launch a legal challenge against the Mayor of London's decision to fence off Parliament Square Gardens halfway through a 10-day peaceful protest in October 2014.

The judicial review will be heard on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 November at the High Court.

Protestors at the demonstration were told the square was fenced off for repair work and maintenance of the grass. However, the large metal fencing quickly expanded to the entire square, including paved areas.

There was also a distinct lack of evidence of maintenance or repair work happening on the gardens. Instead there was a constant presence of police officers and dogs, with little regard for the square's flora.

Occupy Democracy successfully discouraged littering at the demonstration and went to great lengths to keep the area clean and tidy. They also declared the protest an alcohol-free zone. The attendance of demonstrators was never large enough to dominate the square. They were not seeking to hold an indefinite encampment, but a limited 10-day demonstration.

Rosie Brighouse, Liberty Legal Officer, said:

"The right to protest is a vital part of any democracy, allowing ordinary people to peacefully hold the powerful to account.

"For the Mayor of London to so brazenly attempt to end that proud tradition by preventing people from protesting where those in government might actually see them is deeply concerning. Parliament Square is not his private back garden. It is only right that a court will now consider the legality of his decision."

George Barda, Occupy Democracy campaigner and Liberty's client, said:

"We're faced with the combination of increasingly illiberal government policies and global challenges on an unprecedented scale. The importance of principled protest movements that help restore sanity to our national conversation has therefore never been greater.

"Consequently the role of the courts in protecting such movements is vital to our increasingly undermined democracy."

The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in law in Article 11 of the Human Rights Act. There is a positive obligation on the State to take reasonable steps to facilitate this right, and to protect participants in peaceful demonstrations from disruption by others.

Contact: Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128


The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 gave the Mayor and the police significant powers to prevent the use of sleeping equipment, amplification and other protest equipment in the area surrounding Parliament. Liberty raised concerns regarding these laws when they were passed. The Mayor went on to go even further by fencing off the area entirely.
Liberty represents Mr Barda as his solicitor in this case.

October 18, 2007

The GLA Fence around Parliament Square has been removed, for now

This Indymedia report has some photos of the GLA Fence being removed by contractors, as various people camping on the grass were evicted yesterday.

The Greater London Authority, under the orders of the Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, controls the central grass area of Parliament Square (technically Parliament Square Gardens) through Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square byelaws, which do not extend to the pavement area where Brian Haw's protest is located.

Ken Livingstone could give permission for the evicted campers (general peace activists and some Burmese demonstrators), but he has refused to do so over the years, whilst pretending to support many of the causes of the various protesters.

Will the Fence magically re-appear, or will a more permanent one be erected ? How much has this potential danger to the public cost the taxpayers of London ?

Some of the byelaws under the Greater London Authority Act 1999 section 385 which apply to Parliament Square Gardens:

Continue reading "The GLA Fence around Parliament Square has been removed, for now" »

October 14, 2007

Last week's StWC march, Sessional Orders and the Fence

Apologies for not blogging about last week's Stop the War Coalition march / demonstration (see this BBC report) This was noteworthy for the threatened abuse of the Sessional Order by the Metropolitan Police, which is supposed to ensure the safe passage and attendance of MPs and Peers when Parliament is back from its extended holidays.

The law under which these Sessional Orders are issued (almost the very first piece of business which gets rubber stamped without any debate or amendment at the start of each new Session of Parliament) dates back to 1839 and the Chartist riots in the early 19th Century.

Given the underground tunnels from Westminster Tube Station, from Portcullis House and from the underground Car Parks, ensuring that MPs and Peers can get in to the Palace of Westminster is much easier than in 1839, and previous large marches or demonstrations which have filled Parliament Square and the surrounding streets have had no effect on the ability of Parliament to continue functioning as normal.

It would be an evil day if demonstrators or rioters could manipulate the outcome of a vote in Parliament, by physically preventing their political opponents from attending a Vote or debate.

In the end, the Police and the Government seem to have relented, and not abused this legacy law to disrupt the latest StWC march, possibly because of the low turnout for a rather extremist call for immediate withdrawal of US and British troops from Iraq, regardless of the civil war which would result from such an action.

There did seem to be one person at least who was arrested in Parliament Square itself, but not, apparently under SOCPA.

Our previously expressed fears about the stupidity of Ken Livingstone's temporary fence around Parliament Square Gardens was illustrated by the fact that SWtC demonstrators partially dismantled it.

If there had been any sort of violent counter-demonstration, then it seems inevitable that the sections of this fence would have been used as weapons or missiles against the Police or other demonstrators.

If there had been a larger crowd of people in Parliament Square, the fence could have been a Health and Safety hazard, simply due to crowd pressure, and its inevitable obstruction of first aid personnel.

August 22, 2007

PledgeBank Pledge to sign against the fence around Parliament Square Gardens

Richard Pope has set up a PledgeBank Pledge:

"I will email Ken Livingstone asking for the fence around Parliament Square to be removed but only if 10 other londoners will do the same.

Sign up at:

or by sending an SMS text message (normal rate,m UK only)) with the message: pledge parliamentfence to 60022

N.B. Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's contact details are:

Continue reading "PledgeBank Pledge to sign against the fence around Parliament Square Gardens" »

August 21, 2007

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone further restricts public access to Parliament Square with an ugly and potentially dangerous fence

On Friday 17th August 2007, the hypocritical Labour politician the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone had the central part of Parliament Square i.e. Parliament Square Gardens fenced off with ugly chain link "security" fencing. - see this BBC report

What this has to do with the eviction of some "unsightly" illegal campers, an operation which also managed to harass the "legitimate" campers who are part of Brian Haw's 6 year protest camp, which is on the Pavement outside of the Greater London Authority controlled Parliament Square Gardens, is a mystery.

Surely the presence of this temporary fencing is itself not only an eyesore, but will also be danger to public health and safety, the next time that a large crowd gathers in Parliament Square for a peaceful (authorised) demonstration or other event ?

If there are any crowd surges, then either members of the Public or of the Police are going to get crushed against the fence and possibly injured.

Why provide ammunition for any violent troublemakers who want to throw things at the Police or at rival demonstrators ? This has happened on numerous occasions in the past with exactly this sort of fencing.

Why does this ugly fencing encroach on and cause an obstruction on the Pavement on the Northern i.e. Whitehall side of the central part of Parliament Square ? Surely this Pavement is under the jurisdiction of Westminster Council and only the grassy area is owned by the Greater London Authority ?

See this extract from BBC Jam cam image (the traffic CCTV spy camera often, but not always shows this view of Parliament Square):


How much money has this potentially dangerous eyesore Fence, which is no barrier to illegal campers, cost the taxpayers of London ?