LETTER: Essex police in line with Mill

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From Mr John H. Burrow

Sir: In your leading article "When the State fights back" (25 April), you quote with approval the statement of John Stuart Mill that the only rightful exercise of power "over any member of a civilised community against his will, is to prevent harm to others". The article went on to state that, in Britain, legislation is eating away at civil rights, and you cite the use by the Essex Police of the Public Order Act at Brightlingsea as a case in point.

The persistent unlawful obstruction of the highway by demonstrators at Brightlingsea is done with the express intention of barring the passage of the vehicles transporting animals to the town's port. If they were to be successful, they would undoubtedly harm the farmers and exporters carrying out their lawful trade.

The policies and actions of the Essex Police have not inhibited free speech nor the right of the people of Brightlingsea to demonstrate lawfully. Our use of the Public Order Act is, in fact, in line with Mill's dictum.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Constable



26 April