Blunkett legislates to silence lone protester at Westminster

His home is a roll of green plastic sheeting, his possessions no more than necessary to make coffee, keep warm and roll the occasional cigarette.

His home is a roll of green plastic sheeting, his possessions no more than necessary to make coffee, keep warm and roll the occasional cigarette.

Approaching his fourth winter on Parliament Green, few passers-by even notice Brian Haw and his collection of anti-war posters.

For ministers, however, the 55-year-old peace protester is about to become Britain's most wanted man, the first target of new legislation to crack down on organised crime.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will announce next week he is to outlaw "permanent encampments" outside Parliament as well as the use of megaphones. The measure will be included in legislation establishing the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the FBI-style body that ministers say is needed to fight gangsters.

Ministers have been forced to pass a specific law against Mr Haw's activities as a desperate last resort.

Westminster Council was first to try to evict him, but its injunction was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the peace protester was not an obstruction.

The Speaker, driven to distraction by Mr Haw's amplified harangues, inspired an effort to search Parliament's own "sessional orders" to see whether they provided legal authority to evict him.

However, in May the Commons Procedure Committee was forced to admit that Mr Haw's rights to protest could not be over-ridden by medieval statutes guaranteeing MPs safe passage in the streets of Westminster.

Sir George Young, the Tory MP for Hampshire North West, has led the charge against Mr Haw, accusing ministers of an "inexcusable paralysis" for failing to get rid of him earlier.

In a Commons debate in May he said that terrorists could hide behind the peace protester's banners and "pick us off as we arrive at or leave the House". No other democracy would allow "this shanty town" in the middle of the its capital, he said.

Mr Blunkett agrees. He has decided to take the matter on with an amendment to the Serious Organised Crime Bill to be unveiled in the Queen's Speech next month.

"David's just decided that enough is enough and that something has got to be done," said one senior government source last night.

Mr Haw was defiant when told the news of his imminent criminalisation yesterday. "It's my right to be here. It is my life to be here ... all the lords and ladies opposite bleating away as if I had found a loophole in the law that entitles me to be here. Yes. It is called the Human Rights Act."

Mr Haw, born in Woodford in Essex, lives off what sympathisers provide him with and appears to have weathered the months of basic survival fairly well.

The response to his megaphone sloganising is mixed, he says. "I've had Americans crying as they stand here reading the posters, and then there are the bad Americans. They're the ones who walk by with their fingers in the air."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor