April 8, 2007

Sunday Times: Goodbye Magna Carta - extract from " I Fought the Law," by Dan Kieran

The Sunday Times has published an extract from the forthcoming book " I Fought the Law," by Dan Kieran to be published by Bantam Press on May 7 at £9.99 (RRP)

Sunday Times
April 8, 2007
Goodbye Magna Carta

Dan Kieran, author of Crap Towns, is so fed up with the loss of traditional British freedoms that he turned criminal to shake us out of our apathy

These days it’s not enough to talk or write about something. People don’t notice. They haven’t got time. You’ve got to do something visual: You’ve got to make a statement by proving you can be stupid on a scale never seen before.

We’ve seen many types of desperate behaviour to which people will lower themselves for celebrity status, but we’ve never seen anyone deliberately attempt to become a criminal to point out how far from real-life experience and how authoritarian our “democracy” has become. Well, not for a while anyway. So there was nothing for it. I would have to turn my back on the law. In the interests of the greater good, of course.

My descent into this new shady criminal underworld began when I arranged to meet a man called Neil Goodwin one bright morning in Parliament Square. Protest and the right to free speech have always seemed to me to be part of our national DNA. It’s perhaps not surprising then that another of this nation’s great traditions, the tendency towards eccentricity, was soon being employed to fight the government’s exclusion zone that has banned spontaneous protest for a radius of one kilometre outside the seat of our democracy, the Houses of Parliament.



book details from Amazon UK:

" I Fought the Law," by Dan Kieran
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press (7 May 2007)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0593058089
ISBN-13: 978-0593058084

March 31, 2007

"Mark Thomas: My Life in Serious Organised Crime" - BBC Radio 4

Comedian Mark Thomas has broadcast (on Thursday 29th March 2007) some of his surreal and record breaking experiences, in trying to protest against the literally ridiculous Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond.

The Labour Government should never have exposed the Metropolitan Police and the legal system to such absurdity with this freedom destroying legislation and bureaucratic incompetence.

Read about his half hour programme "Mark Thomas:My Life in Serious Organised Crime", and some of the listener's comments.

Listen to the programme via the internet via the BBC Listen Again archive (needs Real Player).

December 26, 2006

BBC Radio 4 Today programme - listener poll - vote to repeal SOCPA Designated Area law

The BBC Radio 4 Today programme Christmas Repeal Vote has been whittled down from 15 Acts of Parliament to 6 candidates.

You can vote, online or via an premium rate phone call, to repeal the Serious Organised Crime and Police ACt 2005 (with reference to the limitations on demonstrating near Parliament) until the 31st December 2006.

Since the NuLabour spin doctors religiously listen to and analyse the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, if the SOCPA Designated Area law does top the poll, it will be quite an effective message to the idiots who inflicted it on us.

July 1, 2006

Stopped by the Met Police for reading The Independent newspaper outside Downing Street

This report in The Independent almost beggars belief. Political harassment by the Police such as this cannot be tolerated in a democracy:

Police hold mother-of-three for reading 'Independent' outside Downing Street
By Terry Kirby, Chief Reporter
Published: 01 July 2006

An anti-Iraq war protester was questioned by police outside Downing Street because she was reading The Independent.

Charity Sweet, 40, and a mother-of-three, was holding a copy of Thursday's edition which carried the headline: "Warning: if you read this newspaper you may be arrested under the Government's anti-terror laws"

Inside was an article reprinted from Vanity Fair magazine which ran across the first three pages of that day's issue of the newspaper. The article, by the writer Henry Porter, accused the Blair Government of a sustained erosion of civil liberties.

As she sat outside Downing Street, Ms Sweet was approached and questioned by a police officer. When he had finished his inquiries she was astonished to be handed a form detailing the reasons for his interest which included "reading today's Independent".

Earlier this month, Steven Jago, an accountant and also an anti-war protester and friend of Ms Sweet, was arrested by police and later charged under the Serious and Organised Crime Act. He had been carrying copies of the magazine which were confiscated by police. On Thursday afternoon, after seeing The Independent had reprinted the article, Ms Sweet decided she would demonstrate her solidarity with Mr Jago and went to Downing Street to find him. Unsuccessful, she bought a sandwich and decided to eat it while sitting down under a tree near the gated entrance to Downing Street and reading the newspaper. She was also wearing a sign around her neck warning against bullying. After some minutes she was interrupted and questioned by a Scotland Yard officer.

Ms Sweet, from Chatham in Kent, said: "It was intrusive and ridiculous to think that I could not sit there and read the newspaper when I chose to. I don't have any issues with the officer himself, he was perfectly polite and just doing his job. He asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I told him the publication of the article was history in the making and I could not think of a more appropriate place to sit down and read it. I don't think I was causing a problem for anybody." She was not cautioned or arrested.

As is normal procedure, the officer handed Ms Sweet a form which set out why a particular person is stopped and, as can happen, searched. Under the section requiring a description of what the person stopped had been doing, the officer wrote: "Sitting outside D Street with Notification Around Neck about Bullying. And Reading Today's Independent."


Which other mainstream media publications are considered to be "grounds for suspicion" by the Metropolitan Police, acting under the framework of repressive legislation and policies, through which the Labour Government is aiding our terrorist enemies to achieve their aim of destroying our traditional human rights and freedoms of thought, speech, assembly and peaceful protest ?

  • The Police Officer involved, and all of his colleagues, should be retrained to remind them that they live and work in a democracy and not a in police state dictatorship.

  • The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office should issue an immediate apology to Ms Sweet and to the Independent newspaper and to all of its readers.

May 25, 2006

Boris Johnson on the repression of freedom of speech in the SOCPA Designated Area

Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP for Henley and media personality has written about Brian Haw, Maya Evans, the Sunday tea party protests and the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area:

Restrictions on Free Speech

May 25, 2006

Blair's crackdown on freedom is an inspiration to tyrants


I can't say I deeply regret the containment in Parliament Square of Brian Haw, the father of seven, anti-war loony who used to bellow at me on my bicycle. Call me finickety, but I thought his posters and general gubbins were a disgrace and spoiled the look of the place; and yet he also, like Eric, represented something dementedly British, and we should remember the impact he must have had on the world's television audiences as they watched the prime ministerial cavalcade sweep past.

There he was, one of the most powerful men in the world, joint toppler of Saddam, barrelling past in his tint-windowed armour-plated Blairmobile; and yet every time Blair or any of us passed by, the British state was so weirdly generous that it allowed this Haw fellow to yodel his imprecations from his ragged throne; and now his freedoms have been lessened.

In the global village, people will notice, and in a small way it will make a difference. Across the world, Britain still stands for a certain idea of liberty, a particular concept of the relationship between the citizen and the state. The tragedy is not so much that this reputation is being lost, but that we are collaborating in its destruction.


How can we urge governments to allow free speech when we round up a 25-year-old chef, Maya Evans, and prevent her from reading out the names of the Iraq war dead at the Cenotaph?

It doesn't make it much easier for British organisations to defend liberty abroad when anti-war protesters are arrested for merely eating toast and tea in Parliament Square, or when old socialists are scragged by the police and hauled from the room for heckling Jack Straw.


This plague of Labour legislation may not much affect the criminals and illegal asylum-seekers of Britain. But the laws give the likes of Mugabe the pleasure of saying, tu quoque: you are up to it as well.

Britain has something far more precious and more important to give the world than the £4.6 billion of overseas aid, and that is the idea of freedom. It is not shortages that cause famine, but tyranny. No tyrant can survive for too long in the face of a free press and a free civil society. The sad thing is that we are losing our moral authority to export our greatest asset.

It took 78 Police Officers and £7,500 to remove Brian Haw's banners from Parliament Square, according to the Metropolitan Police Authority - UPDATE now it seems it cost £27,754 !

According to David Mery, who attended this morning's meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, in order to ask his Question, as a member ot the public, about being falsely arrested and having his home searched, DNA and fingerprints and computer equipment taken etc. in the wake of last July's terrorist attacks, an interesting nuggets of information was revealed about the scale and cost of the Metropolitan Police operation to remove Brian Haw's banners and posters from Parliament Square on Tuesday 23rd May 2006.

"it took 78 officers – more than has been reported so far by the press – six hours at a cost of £7,500 to seize Brian Haw's placards;"

Presumably this emerged in response to a question by Jenny Jones, the Green Party Greater London Assembly member of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

It is inconceivable that there could not have been some real criminals that most of those 78 Police Officers, could and should have been dealing with instead.

UPDATE: according to the Daily Mail. the monetary figure is "only" £7,200

It emerged today that 78 officers had been involved and the operation had cost £7,200 - £3,000 on overtime and another £4,200 on transport, catering and the erection of road signs.


Commander Chris Allison, who was in charge of the operation, said not all of the 78 officers had been deployed - 24 were kept in reserve, while some of the others were evidence-gathering teams who were filming proceedings.

Only eight officers had approached Mr Haw in the first instance, he said.

Mr Haw is due to appear at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on May 30 to answer charges of breaching his conditions to demonstrate in the square.


The Sunday Telegraph has a story which claims that Sir Ian Blair misled the Metropolitan Police Authority meeting about this cost, which is apparently, a staggering £27,754 !

Sir Ian told the Metropolitan Police Authority on Thursday that the cost of removing a peace camp from Parliament Square, which involved 78 officers, was £7,200.

The following day, the issue was discussed by the Met's management board. Within hours, details of the meeting were passed to a journalist, who contacted Scotland Yard for a comment. That afternoon, Sir Ian admitted that he had misled the authority, as the true cost of dismantling the anti-war protester Brian Haw's placards, including officers' pay, was £27,754

What on earth did they waste all this public money for ?

Londoners should demand an explanation from the Metropolitan Police Service, via a complaint to their local member of the Metropolitan Police Authority about this misleading reporting, and the utter waste of public money.

April 24, 2006

Home Secretary Charles Clarke at the LSE Old Theatre 6.30pm Monday 24th April

The Observer has a snippet of Government spin:

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, will use a lecture to the London School of Economics tomorrow to counter what he will describe as 'the myth' that Labour has assumed police state powers.

Critics cite examples such as a new law forbidding demonstrations outside Parliament without prior police permission. Clarke is expected to argue that freedom is alive and kicking, with 157 demonstrations held there since last August.

No ! It is the number of peaceful demonstrations which have not been politically vetted by the Police and the State which is the evidence of freedom.

If freedom is not being curtailed, then why have these peaceful demonstrators been arrested, charged and convicted ?

"The News We Deserve"

Speaker: Charles Clarke
Date: Monday 24 April 2006
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Unless you have a ticket already you will probably not get in, but given the number journalism students and media in the audience, it may well be worth visiting the Three Tuns student bar next door.

Map and directions

It is ironic that Charles Clarke is lecturing the London School of Economics given the personal attacks he has made on their academic staff who dared to criticise his inept and authoritarian ID Card scheme in their well researched Identity Project report

April 12, 2006

Milan Rai fined £350 with £150 costs for Organising an unauthorised demonstration under the SOCPA Designated Area law

Milan Rai has become the first person to be convicted of organising an unuthorised demonstration under the controversial Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 132 Designated Area law around Parliament Square.

Milan has been fined £350 with £150 costs i.e. £500. He does not intend to pay and will try to appeal against this conviction.

Lifestyle Extra has a good report:

Peace activist refuses to pay fine

Wednesday, 12th April 2006, 13:06
Category: Crime and Punishment

LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - A peace activist convicted under new laws banning unauthorised demonstrations near the Houses of Parliament today (Wed) vowed to go to prison rather than pay a fine.

Milan Rai, 40, escaped a jail sentence at Bow Street magistrates' court and was slapped with a £350 and £150 costs after he refused to obtain police permission for his demonstration next to the Cenotaph in Whitehall near the gates to Downing Street last year.

Outside the court today, Rai said: "I have no intention of paying the fine.


"I am prepared to go to prison over this, I'm not scared. I guess people are afraid of the unknown, but I have already been to jail and it becomes less daunting every time."


Today district Judge Nicholas Evans said Rai, who faced up to 51 weeks' imprisonment under the controversial new law, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, had known the consequences of protesting without a permit.

Continue reading "Milan Rai fined £350 with £150 costs for Organising an unauthorised demonstration under the SOCPA Designated Area law" »

April 5, 2006

Mark Barrett fined £250 under the SOCA Designated Area law

The BBC reports that Mark Barrett has been convicted of demonstarting unlawfully, under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and has been fined £250.

UPDATE: It seems that Mark has also been landed with £250 of costs as well, i.e. £500 in total.

Mark says in an interview with BBC London, that he will not pay the fine, and is prepared to go to prison if necessary, to defy this bad law.

You can see a RealMedia video clip of the report on the BBC website..

The BBC London reporter Guy Smith did a "now I am outside the 'Exclusion Zone' , now I am inside it" piece at the southern end of Lambeth Bridge , with the Houses of Parlaiment in the background.. Actually, we think that he was within the Desiganted Area in both camera positions.

The graphic of the extent of the Designated Area (again referred to as the "Exclusion Zone") also managed to miss out the western loop around the MI5 amd Northern Ireland Office buildings.

There was stock footage of the violent Countryside Alliance demonstration which was, of course, one where only a section of the crowd turned violent on the day, partly due to the weak police presence at the time, something which could never have been predicted by the organisers, 6 days in advance. In contrast, there was footage of the weekly peaceful Sunday picnic in Parliament Square Gardens (which starts between 1pm and 1.30pm), showing nothing more violent than a cup of tea.

Another few soundbites from a Human Rights lawyer and overall quite reasonable publcity from the BBC - thanks for the link back to this website.

March 10, 2006

V for Vendetta in Parliament Square and Whitehall

The publicity for the new film "V for Vendetta" by the Wachowski brothers of "The Matrix" trilogy fame, is now gearing up.


Incredibly, the film crew took over Parliament Square and Whitehall at night, over the weekend of the 1st to the 3rd of June 2005, (see the offical photos) to stage the scenes where dozens of Guy Fawkes costumed "terrorists / freedom fighters" blow up the Houses of Parliament, an area patrolled by military security forces with armoured vehicles etc.

There were "V for Vendetta" signs, logos and slogans and also the authoritarian Government propaganda such as 'Strength through Unity, Unity through Faith!', and "The Future is Ours".

Is this fiction or a preview of the next NuLabour election campaign ?

Could the permissions from "14 different Government Departments" have been secured, partly due to the influence of Euan Blair, the son of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was employed as a runner on the film as part of his work experience ?

Is it not ironic , that only two months later, when the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Sections 132 to 138 came fully into force, people were being arrested, prosecuted and convicted for displaying even non-political banners or holding entirely peaceful religous or remembrance ceremonies, without prior written permission from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, having caused no disruption to the security or life in the Designated Area, unlike the film crew ?

Will wearing ir dispalying any "V for Vendetta" merchandise now be enough to get you arrested within the Designated Area ?

March 2, 2006

Channel 4 TV - Dispatches: Stealing Your Freedom

There was a Channel 4 TV documentary Dispatches: Stealing Your Freedom shown on Monday 27th February 2006, which included a segment with Maya Evans and Peter Hitchins reading out some of the same names of British military casulaties in Iraq, at the same spot near the Cenotaph in Whitehall, where Maya was arrested and subsequently convicted under SOCPA section 132.

Illogically, since this action was part of a TV programme, starring a major newspaper political commntator, it was not deemed to be a protest or a "demonstration", and they were not arrested.

You can set your video recorders for the repeat showings of the documentary on:

  • Channel 4 on Saturday 4th March 4.30am - 5:25am ,
  • More4 Saturday 4th March, 8:10pm - 9:10pm,
  • More4+1 Saturday 4th March, 9:10pm - 10:10pm
  • Channel 4 Sunday 5th March 4:30am - 5:25am
04:30 Dispatches: Stealing Your Freedom

Political commentator Peter Hitchens looks at how the recent avalanche of security legislation has affected the civil liberties of ordinary people in Britain. He argues that the government's measures, designed to protect us from crime and terrorism, are in fact a menace to freedom and not a threat to criminals.

January 10, 2006

Day 1: Aug 1st SOCPA trial - Met Police Sergeant's claims of "safety fears" seem rather exaggerated

The reports of yesterday's Bow Street Magistrates' Court trial of the 4 people facing charges under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 132, for "demonstrating" without prior written permission within the Designated Area around Parliament Square have started to appear.

Compare and contrast the Metropolitan Police Sergeant's fears for the safety" of his men" claims, according to this BBC report with the Bloggerheads analysis of photos taken during this first set of arrests under the SOCPA Designated Area powers on 1at August 2005.

Also note the discrepancy regarding who was using a Loudspeaker - it was Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North), not the person who was arrested as "the focal point of the protest".

N.B. the Section 137 offence of using a Loudspeaker was not an arrestable one on 1st August 2005, but, now, after the commencement of SOCPA Section 110 this 1st January 2006, you can now be arrested for doing so.

According to this Indymedia report, it also appears that seven people were arrested on the 1st of August, but two people do not seem to have faced charges - who was the Somalian woman and the guy in the sunglasses ?

Does the presence of the press and media prevent you from being arrested within the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond ?

There is a report about the 7/7 remebrance ceremony at the Cenotaph on Saturday, with photos published by Indymedia: socpa legislation successfully challenged today by 7/7 remembrance ceremony

This poses the very pertinent question about the presence of the of the press and media on the likelyhood of being arrested or not, for exactly the same activities, within the Designated Area

a pattern is emerging that police only arrest people when they think that they can get away with it without much media attention.

when american anti-war activist cindy sheehan came over to meet brian haw in parliament square in december, police issued a socpa warning telling them to disperse, but as the deadline passed, a crowd of up to a hundred people staged a full-scale demonstration, marching up to the gates of downing street with banners and chants, and because of the sensitive nature of any arrests in the week maya evans had appeared all over the media, they backed down and allowed the protest to continue.

just before christmas, a 'carol-singing' congregation in parliament square listened and cheered while brian haw harangued the government, and a megaphone was briefly used illegally. the crowd numbered more than a hundred, and yet the police failed to investigate, and studiously ignored the throng rather than be reported by the attendant media as arresting carol-singers.

the previous day however, barbara tucker had been arrested and charged under the act for standing alone outside parliament with a placard stating "i am not the organised criminal". there were no press around on that occasion.

today, media attended the ceremony, and so despite the fact it was virtually a rerun of maya's offence (though with a larger crowd of 9 rather than 2!), the police watched but did not act. when questioned, one of them said they were just keeping an eye on things and said "we're not all bastards".

on the 18th an activist is due in court - he was attending a picnic at parliament square in august, and was nicked for wearing an 'a4' size placard around his neck stating 'protest my right'. and yet today, one of the participants was wearing the exact same banner in full view of the police but was not even warned let alone arrested. press included spanish tv, london tonight, channel 4, news of the world, and the evening standard. could this explain the police reticence? another banner asked for a public inquiry into the london bombings.

do you see a pattern?

so a word of advice if you want to demonstrate in the exclusion zone. make sure the press is there, and it seems you'll be immune. go alone, and face the consequences.

If thre risk of being arrested or not, for identical activities e.g. standing near the Cenotaph in Whitehall and posing no security threat whatsoever, depends , not on the safeguards to our freedoms and liberties as laid down in law, but on the decisions of public relations spin doctors, then what is the difference between NuLabour Britain and a banana republic or a tinpot dictatorship ?

Write to your Member of Parliaemnt urging them to repeal this offensive and repressive SOCPA section 132 to 138 legislation, which is bringing the law into disrepute and wasting police and court resources, without making the public any safer at all.

December 28, 2005

Catholic peace group not arrested in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square

via Craig Murray (former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan):

The BBC reports:

Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 17:35 GMT
Iraq protest in 'demo ban zone'

More demonstrators have gathered in an "exclusion zone" to test the limits of a law banning protests without the police authorisation.

Catholic peace group Pax Christi read out names of children killed in the Iraq conflict at Downing Street.

Members said prayers at the event, which did not have police permission, but officers chose not to intervene.


Pax Christi's British chairman Stuart Hemsley told the BBC News website he read out the names of 29 British soldiers with children, who had been killed in Iraq.

The group also picked out the names of 50 Iraqi children aged five and under.

"We had no problems from the police whatsoever, they just stood there looking stony-faced. It was as if we weren't there.

"I am not disappointed I have not been arrested but I wonder if this will now set a precedent."

He said the group of 15 wanted to pray and worship at the seat of power in the hope they would continue to raise awareness of the situation in Iraq.

This seems to be a moral victory, or a victory for common sense.

No doubt some spin doctor or other, either at the Metropolitan Police, or in the Labour Government has decided to try to avoid a repeat of the Daily Mail and The Independent front page headlines, which followed from Maya Evans' conviction for exactly the same sort of activity as the Pax Christi group.

How can the Metropolitan Police continue to "turn a blind eye" to some "demonstrations" within the Designated Area, but not to others ?

What happened to the principle of "equality before the law" ?

Have the Met been given "advice" or instructions from the Home Office etc. ? Or is this policy of standing by and shiftily not even meeting the gaze of Carol Singers or Christian peace activists one which they have come up with on their own ?

December 22, 2005

No arrests at the Parliament Square Carol Service - Metropolitan Police fail to uphold the (stupid) law

According to the BBC:

Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 21:32 GMT

Singers defy Parliament demo ban

Carol singers have become the latest group to defy a ban on unauthorised protests around Parliament.

About 100 singers tested the limits of the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act by singing in Parliament Square on Wednesday evening

The law bans demonstrating without police permission within a half-mile "exclusion zone".

No singers were arrested. Police said they treated it as a carol service, not a demonstration.

Hooray that nobody got arrested, however

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: "We treated the event as a carol service and not as a demonstration so the legislation did not come into play."

This may be the common sense view, but it is not the law.

Continue reading "No arrests at the Parliament Square Carol Service - Metropolitan Police fail to uphold the (stupid) law" »

December 21, 2005

BBC Traffic JamCam picture of the Parliament Square Carol Service - no arrests yet

18_25.jpg BBC Radio London JamCam Whitehall/Parliament Square, 18:25 Wed 21st Dec 2005

The BBC Radio London website provides a few "JamCam" pictures periodically grabbed from some of London's CCTV cameras used for traffic management.

Usually, these non-real time images, every 5 or 10 minutes, are censored whenever there is any kind of Police "incident", either by no longer updating the image or by displaying a "not available for operational reasons" graphic.,

This rather defeats the whole point of providing informatuion to commuters so that they can plan their journeys to and from work, and avoid traffic jams.

Today's Carol Service in Parliament Square, due to start at 18:00, has not yet been censored and does show a few people gathering in the bottom right of the image, from the Whitehall/Parliament Square camera


Media interest in the Carol Service in Parliament Square

The national media are starting to take an interest in today's planned Carol Service in Parliament Square.

The BBC reports that

"Singers defy Parliament demo ban

Carol singers are to become the latest group to defy a ban on unauthorised protests around Parliament.

The group will test the limits of the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act by singing in Parliament Square from 1800 GMT on Wednesday."

"A Scotland Yard spokeswoman was not able to comment on whether a carol service constituted a demonstration and said a decision about whether to take action would be taken on the day".

If there are any arrests under SOCPA, then there should also be arrests at the Service of Lessons & Carols due to be held at 4pm on Saturday 24th December 2005 in Westminster Abbey since it is also within the Designated Area and is a public place:

(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,

December 14, 2005

Lord Falconer interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on the conviction of Maya Evans under SOCPA section 132

The Chicken Yoghurt blog has a transcript of the frightening interview of Lord Falconer, the Chancellor in charge of our legal system, interviewed by John Humphries on the BBC Radio 4 flagship current affairs Today programme:regarding the arrest and conviction of Maya Evans under section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

It is actually frightening to see the way in which the person in charge of the Department for Constitutional Affairs seems to have convinced himself that he is doing nothing wrong by limiiting our freedoms and liberties, thereby giving comfort and aid to our terrorist and other enemeies.

December 7, 2005

Maya Evans convicted under section 132 of SOCPA - given a conditional discharge

The BBC reports that Maya Evans has been convicted.

Maya Anne Evans, 25, a vegan cook from Hastings, was found guilty of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

She was arrested in October after reading out names of soldiers killed in Iraq at central London's Cenotaph.

Bow Street magistrates gave her a conditional discharge.

According to Sky News preview of tomorrow's newspapers, both the right wing Daily Mail and the left of centre Independent give over their front pages to highlight this restrction on free speech..

Maya Evans case was specifically discussed by David Cracknell of the Sunday Times and Lembit Öpik a Liberal Democrat MP, who said of the restriction on free speech being reported on the front pages of the Daily Mail and The Independent, "It is as bad as it sounds".

Continue reading "Maya Evans convicted under section 132 of SOCPA - given a conditional discharge" »

October 4, 2005

The Guardian: George Monbiot - Protest is criminalised and the huffers and puffers say nothing

George Monbiot writing in The Guardian mentions the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act in his round up of some, but astonishingly, not all, of the laws which are being used by officious policemen against peaceful demonstrators and protestors, and not against the terrorists and criminals which they are meant to be used for.

Protest is criminalised and the huffers and puffers say nothing

The police abuse terror and harassment laws to penalise dissent while we insist civil liberties are our gift to the world"

George Monbiot
Tuesday October 4, 2005
The Guardian

Continue reading "The Guardian: George Monbiot - Protest is criminalised and the huffers and puffers say nothing" »

October 2, 2005

The Guardian: Campaign of the Week - Parliament Square Picnickers

We missed this write up in The Guardian earlier this week. Please email us any links to relevant media coverage.

Continue reading "The Guardian: Campaign of the Week - Parliament Square Picnickers" »

September 21, 2005

The First Post: A very English demo

The new online magazine The First Post has a feature by Sandra Barwick about the Sunday Picnic Protests in Parliament Square:

A very English demo
Sandra Barwick joins a Westminster picnic protest against police powers to curtail free speech

N.B. The First Post publishers appear not to understand how world wide web search engines and blogs work - they seem to be continually re-numbering the articles in their online archives, and they have an web unfriendly copyright notice. Presumably they do not want any casual visitors to their website.

We have mirrored the article below, but it might disappear if they complain:

Continue reading "The First Post: A very English demo" »

August 30, 2005

The Guardian: Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament

The Guardian reports:

Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament

Matthew Tempest, political correspondent
Tuesday August 30, 2005

A free speech activist arrested after a weekend "tea party" on Parliament Square has vowed to continue the campaign against new laws which restrict the right to protest outside the House of Commons.
Mark Barrett was arrested on Sunday after a midday picnic on the grass opposite Big Ben, aimed at demonstrating the severity of the clampdown on unauthorised protests.

Today he said the Sunday tea parties - which he claims are not demonstrations, but "Mad Hatter's Tea Party meets Speaker's Corner" and therefore are not subject to the new law - would continue.

Continue reading "The Guardian: Picnicking protester arrested outside parliament" »

August 16, 2005

BBC: " Demo ban protesters deny charges"

The BBC reports. without much detail, that:

Demo ban protesters deny charges

Ten anti-war activists have appeared in court accused of defying a ban on unauthorised protests near Parliament.

Ann Clancy, 70, from Harrow, north-west London, was among those arrested in demonstrations days after the ban came into force at the start of August.

All of the accused denied charges under laws which prohibit protests, without prior police approval, within half-a-mile of Westminster.

Bow Street magistrates bailed all 10 until a hearing later this month.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act effectively bans all spontaneous protests near Parliament"

Continue reading "BBC: " Demo ban protesters deny charges"" »

August 1, 2005

Parliament Square protest exclusion zone protest - 5 arrests

The BBC reports that 5 demonstrators have been arrested at today's Stop the War Coaltion protest in Parliament Square, protesting against the draconian Serious Organised Crime and Police Act Designated Area.

"Last Updated: Monday, 1 August, 2005, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK Arrests over Parliament demo ban

Five anti-war activists demonstrating against a ban on unauthorised protests near Parliament have been arrested.

A ban on protests within half-a-mile of Westminster which have not been cleared by police came into force at midnight.

However, about 50 people wearing black gags to symbolise the "infringement" of their right to protest have gathered in Parliament Square in defiance.

Ministers say planned protests can be held but the rights of protesters and workers in the area must be balanced.

But campaigners say the move restricts an established right to protest.

More than a dozen police officers were at the scene, and arrests were made around an hour after the protest begun."

These restrictions do not just apply to "anti-war" protestors, (apart from Brian Haw who is exempt), they apply to everyone else, of whatever political or religous opinions.

Continue reading "Parliament Square protest exclusion zone protest - 5 arrests" »

July 29, 2005

Brian Haw wins his legal loophole case and can continue to protest in Parliament Square - but the restrictions still apply to everybody else

The BBC reports that Brian Haw has won his legal loophole case against the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and can continue his protest.

This must be hugely embarassing for the Government which brought in the controversial legislation partly, but not wholly, to restrict his long running peace camp protest in Parliament Square.

"Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Parliament protester wins battle

A man who has held a four-year anti-war protest outside Parliament, has won a legal battle to continue his vigil.

From 1 August all protests in a half-mile zone in Westminster, London, must have prior permission from police.

But the High Court has ruled Brian Haw, 56, from Worcestershire, who claimed he was exempt as his protest pre-dated the new laws, can continue his protest.

The government said Mr Haw posed a potential security risk and described his argument as "absurd".

Lawyers for Mr Haw said his demonstration had begun four years ago and therefore he did not have to apply for authorisation, even though the law was actually targeted at him.

Lady Justice Smith, sitting with Mr Justice McCombe and Mr Justice Simon, said the new law did not catch Mr Haw because of a drafting error.

She said: "If Parliament wishes to criminalise any particular activity, it must do so in clear terms. If it wishes to do so, Parliament can amend this Act.""

Nowever, the rights and freedoms of all of the rest of are still restricted by these stupid and disproportionate Designated Area regulations.

The Global Womens' Strike weekly protest may also be exempt, since they have also been regularly demonstrating for over 2 years. However their activities might be classed as a series of separate demonstrations, so their next one would fall foul of the new law. Their use of "open mike" loudspeakers will simply be banned under the new law either way.

July 26, 2005

BBC: "Parliament protester wins review"

The BBC reports that Brian Haw's legal loophole challenge to the Serious Organised Crime and Security Act 2005, is being considered by a panel of three High Court Judges, who will rule on it by the end of the week.

Unfortunately, even if the High Court rules in favour of Brian Haw, the legal precedent will not apply to the vast majority of other people who might wish to demonstrate in the Designated Area in the future.

It is not clear from the Home Office's Freedom of Information Act disclosure,

"9) Will a short walk in and around the Parliament Square "Designated Area" entail getting prior permission from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police if you happen to be wearing a "political slogan" T-shirt or badge ?

9. The definition of a demonstration is ultimately a matter for the courts."

that there may have to be another test case to determime exactly what constitutes "a demonstration" under this very poorly worded new legislation, as this panel of High Court Judges will probably only be considering the narrow point of law applicable to Brian Haw.

Continue reading "BBC: "Parliament protester wins review"" »

July 23, 2005

The Times: "Westminster protest challenge"

The Times reports:

"July 23 2005
The Times

Westminster protest challenge

A PROTESTER who has held a 24-hour vigil for four years outside Parliament is to go to the High Court to fight a government attempt to remove him.

Brian Haw, 56, has been protesting in Parliament Square since 2001, initially against Western sanctions on Iraq and later against Britain’s involvement in the American-led war. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, passed this year, requires protesters to obtain police permission before staging any demonstration within an area designated by the Home Secretary, which includes Parliament Square and Whitehall. But Mr Haw will argue that the legislation does not apply to his protest, as it began before August 1 this year, when the new law comes into effect.

In 2002, Mr Haw fought off an attempt by Westminster City Council to evict him on the ground that he was obstructing the highway.

Mr Haw’s case is expected to be heard in London on Tuesday"

July 14, 2005

The Guardian: media footage of Parliament Square demonstrations and the IPPC

The Guardian has a report that is of relevance to anyone planning a protest or demonstration in Parliament Square or the Designated Area.

Media lose hunt rally legal bid

Staff and agencies
Thursday July 14, 2005

News organisations today failed in their high court bid to overturn an order to hand over pictures of last year's pro-hunt rally in Parliament Square.

Guardian Newspapers, ITV, ITN, Associated Newspapers and Reuters challenged an earlier court order requiring them to hand over cine film, video tape, photographs and negatives of the demonstration.

The order was obtained in March by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating allegations of police violence against demonstrators.

Media organisations were ordered to release all rally footage shot between 1pm and 7pm on September 15, 2004, whether or not it was transmitted or published.

Some organisations complied with the order but others did not."