These forthcoming trials are all of peaceful, non-violent people who have simply been exercising their fundamental human rights rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, in a traditional and time honoured location for political discussions, protests and demonstrations.
They posed no security threat whatsoever, and they did not disrupt the workings of Parliament in any way.
It does not matter whether you agree with any or all of their political or religous causes, this unjust law also applies to you as well.
By harassing the demonstrators through the legal system in this way, the Government is letting the enemies of democracy win a propaganda victory, by supressing spontaneous demonstrations in a way which btings the Government, the Police and the Court system into disrepute.
Please write to your Member of Parliament and urge them to repeal sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Poluce Act 2005,, or at least, to vastly reduce the size of the Designated Area.
Tuesday 17 January 2006
TRIAL FOR TAKING PART IN 'TEA PARTY' AS HEARINGS UNDER CONTROVERSIAL NEW ANTI-PROTEST LAW CONTINUE
WEDNESDAY 18 JANUARY (2pm), THURSDAY 19 JANUARY (10am), MONDAY 23 JANUARY (10am), BOW STREET MAGISTRATES COURT, LONDON.
The trial of a man who was taking part in a free speech 'tea party' on Parliament Square will take place on Wednesday. Mark Barrett was arrested on 28 August 2005 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) for being part of an unauthorised 'demonstration' (despite the fact that this 'demonstration' was in fact a picnic with a group of friends). [A]
Since the new law was introduced there has been a weekly picnic and 'People's Commons' discussion in Parliament Square, both of which seek to challenge the protest exclusion zone and to highlight its implications for freedom of speech and association as enshrined into UK law in the Human Rights Act of 1998. [B]
Mark Barrett was arrested while sitting on the grass drinking tea and eating cake. Although, five other picnickers have been arrested (on a different occasion), charges against them were dropped. Supporters will join Mark outside the court on 18 January, for a reconstruction of the picnic at which he was arrested at 1.30pm.
Mark Barrett said, 'Our picnic is a creative response which challenges the unconstitutional SOCPA legislation, which arbitrarily criminalises any public behaviour and all spontaneous peaceful expression around Parliament: a huge and telling affront to our supposed democracy.'
On Thursday 19 January, Chris Coverdale, who was arrested in Parliament Square for holding an unauthorised demonstration against the occupation in Iraq, will also be on trial at Bow St Magistrates Court (at 10am). [C]
It now seems that this court appearance has been postponed until March 7th
On Monday 23 January, a further five people will be on trial at Bow St Magistrates Court at 10am. The five were arrested on 7 August at a demonstration in Parliament Square held specifically in defiance of the new restrictions on protest in the area. [D]
One of the five, Emma Sangster said, 'Protest is becoming increasingly prohibited and criminalized, yet it is through protest that the rights which we all take for granted, including freedom of speech and association, have been won over the centuries. Now, where it matters most, at the heart of power in this country, the police take the decision as to who may protest and how they can do it. Things are in a sorry state when the freedoms of speech and association are regulated by what amount to political decisions by the police.'
CONTACT Mark Barrett on 07854 390408 and Emma Sangster on 07791 486484
See www.parliamentprotest.org.uk and www.peopleincommon.org for more information
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Supporters will stage a reconstruction of the picnic at which Mark was arrested outside Bow Street Magistrates Court at 1.30 on Wednesday 18th January.
[A] Under the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (April 2005) anyone wishing to demonstrate within 1km of Parliament must apply to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner at least 6 days in advance or, if not "reasonably practicable", 24 hours in advance. Permission must be granted but the Commissioner can impose draconian conditions on the protest including: when and where it can take place; how long it can last; how many people can attend; how much noise can be made; and the number and size of banners and placards used.
[B] For more details on the circumstances of Mark Barrett's arrest see
[C] See www.laaw.org for more details
[D] For more details of the demonstration in defiance of the new restrictions on protest around Parliament see