Law Lords block police bid to stop critical mass cyclists

Police attempts to outlaw the monthly Critical Mass cycle ride through the streets of London unless its route was notified in advance were blocked by the Law Lords today.

The House of Lords allowed a challenge by cyclist Des Kay to a Court of Appeal ruling that the Metropolitan Police had the right to demand prior notice of the ride's date, time and route and the names and addresses of the organisers.



Cyclists who gather on the South Bank and ride through the city to celebrate safe cycling have in the past been handed written notices by the police stating that the event was unlawful because no advance notice was given.



But the Law Lords held that the event, which had no organisers or set route and proceeded on a "follow my leader" basis, was not governed by section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986.



Friends of the Earth Rights and Justice Centre, which acted for Mr Kay, hailed the ruling as "an important victory for the right to peaceful protest and for cyclists to take part in this monthly celebration of cycling".



Mr Kay, described by the Lords as an environmental educator and performing artist, said: "I'm thrilled with this judgment.



"This was a very important case for people like me who have cycled with Critical Mass for many years.



"More importantly, I hope that it will encourage other cyclists to join the monthly rides."



The Critical Mass rides are part of a global phenomenon in which cyclists in more than 400 cities worldwide take to the streets once a month in celebration of safe cycling.



The London ride has taken place on the last Friday of every month since April 1994.



The main legal issue in the appeal was whether the monthly rides were "commonly or customarily held", in which case they were exempt from the notification requirements of the Public Order Act 1986.



The legal action was a result of a leaflet handed out by police at the Critical Mass ride in September 2005, stating: "These cycle protests are not lawful because no organiser has provided police with the necessary notification. Your participation in this event could render you liable to prosecution."



Police lawyers had argued that the rides were not "commonly or customarily held" because, although they started at the same time from the same place on the South Bank, they did not follow the same route.



Therefore, police were entitled to advance notice of the route for the avoidance of public disorder and traffic disruption.



But Lord Phillips ruled today that the ride was a "customary procession", even though it did not follow the same route.



And the evidence showed the Met were usually able to police the ride without difficulty.



Lord Phillips added that an offence under Section 11 of the Act was only committed if the organisers of an event failed to comply with a prior obligation to give details of an intention to hold a "public procession".



Since Critical Mass had no organisers and there was no such obligation, the rides were not unlawful.



The police contended that, if a similar event were to be started elsewhere in the UK, it would be unlawful without prior notice of the route.



Lord Phillips said the Green and White Papers which led to the 1986 Public Order Act were at pains to underline the importance of the right to hold processions and the need for any restrictions to respect that right.



"It is inconceivable that Parliament could have intended, by a sidewind, to outlaw events such as Critical Mass," he said.



Lords Rodger, Carswell and Brown and Baroness Hale also allowed Mr Kay's appeal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
A daily miscellany of general election facts, figures, trivia and traditions
voicesThere's still time for someone to do something to make us care
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, goes back to his family's Sicilian roots in the first 'Godfather' film
film
News
news
News
Kim Kardashian speaks on the Today show about her step-father's transition
PEOPLE
Sport
Wenger and Mourinho square-up to each other earlier this season
sportAll the action from today's Premier League, including Everton vs Man Utd and Chelsea vs Arsenal
News
Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik
music
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions