The mayor of London has returned to the High Court in a fresh bid to evict veteran peace campaigner Brian Haw from Parliament Square Gardens.
Last July, demonstrators in the makeshift camp known as Democracy Village had to leave the historic site after the Court of Appeal backed possession orders granted to mayor Boris Johnson by Mr Justice Griffith Williams.
But, it remitted, "with considerable hesitation", the question of whether it was reasonable and proportionate to enforce them against Mr Haw, whose long-standing presence on the pavement on the east side of Parliament Square was not challenged, except for his encroachment on to a small adjoining part of the Gardens where he had pitched a tent.
Three judges headed by Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger said that Mr Haw was entirely separate from Democracy Village and there was no suggestion that his presence had discouraged other visitors or demonstrators, or damaged the flowers.
Mr Haw is receiving treatment for lung cancer in Germany but fellow protester Barbara Tucker was in court in London today to hear the mayor's counsel, David Forsdick, repeat his stance that he could not envisage situations where he would agree to semi-permanent camp protest on the site.
"We are not asserting criminal damage, occupation of large parts of Parliament Square or any particular activity of Mr Haw and Mrs Tucker in Parliament Square.
"We are saying that their occupation of a part of it is, by itself, what we are concerned about."
He told Mr Justice Wyn Williams that it was quite clear from the Court of Appeal's judgment that it remained a strong case which needed to be adjudicated upon.
He said that the nature, duration and location of Mr Haw's protest were within the scope of Article 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act, which covers freedom of expression, association and assembly, and which could only be interfered with if there was a pressing social need.
"But the greater the extent of the right claimed, the greater the risk of that right having to be curtailed to protect the rights and freedoms of others."
He added: "It cannot be right - and there is no authority to suggest - that Article 10 and Article 11 requires individuals to be permitted indefinitely to take control of important public space to the exclusion of the public.
"Any such approach would be an affront to, rather than a protection of, the wider public's rights and freedoms."
The judge heard that separate eviction proceedings - brought by Westminster City Council in relation to the recent occupation of the pavement at the site by some Democracy Village protesters - have been launched but have yet to come to court.
The hearing before Mr Justice Wyn Williams is expected to last a day with judgment likely to be reserved to a later date.
The judge reserved his decision to a later date.Reuse content