Police accused of 'suppressing' anti-monarchist sentiment ahead of royal wedding

 

Police adopted an “impermissibly low tolerance to public protest” ahead of last year’s royal wedding, lawyers representing anti-monarchist activists who were pre-emptively detained to stop them protesting it have told the High Court.

The accusation came on the first day of a judicial review hearing into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of public protests, which could have significant implications for how the Olympic Games are policed this summer.

A group of 20 activists, who were among scores searched and detained during or before the ceremony, have asked the court to rule that the Commissioner of Police operated an unlawful policy that violated the fundamental democratic right to protest.

Their lawyers accused the Met of effectively “suppressing anti-monarchist sentiment” yesterday. They hoped the case would be heard in time to influence policing at the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations but Lord Justice Richards, who is hearing the judicial review application in London with Mr Justice Openshaw, said that was unlikely, opening up the possibility of a similarly robust policing plan next week.

Karon Monaghan QC, appearing for 15 applicants, said her clients were all pre-emptively arrested on Friday April 29 2011 when Prince William married Kate Middleton. Their arrests occurred in four separate locations in central London, when police officers said they suspected them of being about to commit breaches of the peace.

Ms Monaghan said those she represented were held at police stations and the signal for their release from custody was “the balcony kiss” of the royal couple.

The case touched upon “the most important of constitutional rights, namely the rights to free expression and to protest, both of which are elemental to a properly functioning democracy”, Ms Monaghan told the court.

In policing the royal wedding, the Met “operated a policy of equating intention to protest, whether perceived or actual, with intention to cause unlawful disruption”.

The commissioner’s lack of tolerance for the protests resulted in the “unlawful arrests of those who were viewed by officers as being likely to express anti-monarchist views”, she said.

It was not being argued that the right to protest was absolute, “it is not but it is recognised as a preciously guarded freedom”, Ms Monaghan said.

A previous direct attack on the Prince of Wales’ car was one of the factors taken into account by the Met when they drew up their plans for policing the wedding, the judges heard.

Met lawyers are denying the existence of an unlawful policy of arrest and detention. They say it is clear from contemporary documents and statements from officers that those in charge were well aware of the distinction between lawful, peaceful protest on the one hand and preventing breaches of the peace and criminality on the other.

Life and Style
Social media users in Mexico who commented on cartel violence have been killed in the past
techTweets not showing up or loading this morning, users say
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker