Home Office Minister Tony "not fit for purpose" McNulty has signed Statutory Instrument 2007 No. 930 - The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (Designated Sites under Section 128) Order 2007 which comes into force on 1st June 2007.
This "designates" some more sites, under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 128
Most controversially this now "designates" the entire Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House office buildings, crucially, even the formerly public access areas such the Central Lobby or the Committee Rooms.
It is intolerable for any Police officer and / or the Attorney General to have the power of arrest and prosecution on a charge which could lead to up to 51 weeks in prison in these particular areas, threatneing and chilling the democratic right of constituents. to meet and lobby their Members of Parliament, or to listen to the proceedings of Select Committees etc.
Designating the exterior of the building and the private office spaces and the Chambers of Parliament seems fair enough, but not the public areas. There are plenty of other existing laws to deal with "disturbing the peace" or any threats of actual violence etc which apply to these areas, it is typical of the Labour Government control freaks like Tony McNulty and his boss John Reid, to ineptly further restrict our democratic freedoms to assemble and protest and lobby democratically and peacefully.
Members of Parliament seemed to have not understood that these public areas of Parliament itself are already curtailed, under Section 132 of the same Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, since the Palace of Westminster is within the Designated Area around Parliament Square, which includes:
Section 132 (7)
(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,
Now it appears that you can be arrested,on the whim of a Police officer, inside Parliament both under Section 128 and Section 132 of the Act.
Under Section 128, it is your mere presence within the Designated Site which now surrounds the formerly public areas inside the Parliament buildings, which is criminalised, even if you are not actually protesting or demonstrating, and even if you leave when requested to do so.
The new criminal offence of "Offence of trespassing on designated site" is entirely separate from that of criminal trespass, or the civil common law offence of trespass.
Section 128 is so badly written, that there actually no exemptions, even for the owners of the Designated Sites themselves i.e. the Crown, the Duchy of Cornwall, the UK Military, the UK Government, Parliament and the operators of nuclear power stations etc.
Their only right under Section 128, is to grant permission in respect to the display of warning notices around the periphery of the site.
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