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Lawyers outlaw protest where UK governments fail

Freedom to Protest | 11.02.2004 17:30 | Analysis | Indymedia | Repression

How one lawyer is abusing the law to succeed where governments have failed and outlaw all forms of legitimate protest, especially for genetic & animal abuse activity. Discussion of how they have been doing this and details for you to take action.

Lawyers outlaw protest where UK governments fail.

It is well known that governments are none too fond of the right to protest, and go to great lengths to criminalize any form of dissent that threatens to be effective. This has been increasingly the case under the current Labour government where every month brings new threats to the basic right to effect change.

Protest is not about saying that something is wrong and should be stopped. It a fundamental right which allows ordinary people to come together and create the world they wish to live in, in the face of undemocratic powers and corrupt politicians who have ceased to represent the electorate. This is why it is enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet a small London legal firm has succeeded where Blair, Blunkett and Straw have failed. Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, an expert on the 1997 Harrassment Act (the 'stalking law'), brought in to protect people from stalkers, is marketing himself to large companies as the man who can protect them from protestors.

He has turned Harrassment Act about, using it to obtain civil injunctions on behalf of targeted companies, injunctions which severely restrict the right to protest. As more and more of these injunctions are taken out, they have become wider in scope and powers. Now, the latest injunction, on behalf of property group Emerson (also trades as Orbit Developments and Jones Homes), has succeeded in widening the definition of harrassment to the point that no protest at all is allowed!

It has all be achieved under the guise of protecting the employees from being harrassed by protestors. As it is done in the civil courts, the burden of proof is far lower than the criminal courts. It is done initially without the defendants having any right of say, even if the know about it. Lawson-Cruttenden simply turns up with his witness statements, which can tell the most outrageous lies without being challenged or verified. Any sort of picture they want drawn can be created. In this sort of environment, maximized in favour of the claimant, the judge will grant most of what they want.

However, all the acts cited in justification are illegal anyway, and anybody caught doing them faces prosecution. Not the sort of person who is going to be that concerned about breaking an injunction. The upshot is that it is legitimate protest and freedom of speech and reporting which suffers. For some injunctions even the lawyers acting on behalf of the defendants are worried about how they are to be able to do their job.

So far most of these injunctions have been granted in favour of targets of animal rights companies, and also the campaign against Bayer's plans for GM food in the UK. At about £50,000 a go, you can be sure that more and more protest groups are going to be hit by these draconian injunctions. Already, Lawson-Cruttenden himself has stated that it is the anti-genetics movement which is next in line for him to push his services. The injunction he has put together for Bayer drawns false and tenuous links between disparate groups to tar everyone with the same extremist brush. Even if you have no sympathy for the hardliners, it does not matter; regardless of how pacificist your outlook is, the fact that you are against something is enough for you to be lumped in with the extremists, and there is little you can do about it. On the Bayer injunction it was enough that the animal rights campaigners of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty once did a couple of low key demos at Bayer in the Midlands for Lawson-Cruttenden to wade in with irrelevant material from the animal rights campaigns and accuse anti-GM protestors of being in the same boat.

It is only a small leap before Indymedia and other free speech organisations are placed within Lawson-Cruttendens sights, and this resource is forbidden to report on may actions simply because his clients can afford to pay for civil injunctions. This is not a scare story - this is already happening with some websites..

Below are the contact details for Lawson-Cruttenden & Co (all available from their website). Contact them and let them know you disapprove of their assault on the basic human rights of protest and free speech.

If you do not believe the restrictions being granted under these injunctions, visit and take a look at the injunctions posted there, in particular the Emerson Order at the bottom (unfortunately it is 4MB to download this pdf file). Even the lawyers are nervous to touch it, so broad is it's assault on our freedoms.

Heed the warning - for the sake of every protest, now and in the future, this must be fought at every level. Please distribute far and wide.

Lawson-Crutteneden is making an attack on our fundamental rights. However, we do not feel that his rights should also be attacked. Please use the information in this article to lobby peacefully for the restoration of our rights to protest and to publish, and not to carry out any illegal acts. Please be polite. Lobby your MP on this matter, get them to ask why the government is allowing our civil liberties so be so crudely eroded by a misapplication of the law.

Lawson-Cruttenden & Co.
10-11, Gray's Inn Square
Tel: +44 (0)20 7405 0833
Fax: +44 (0)20 7405 0866
Email: &

Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden
Email: &

Melanie Loram
Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives and is an experienced matrimonial law practitioner.

David Coffey
He is a member of Mensa and is the secretary of the Holborn and Westminster Law Society, Law reform Committee.

Freedom to Protest
- e-mail:


Hide the following 5 comments

more info pls

11.02.2004 19:58

The post explains that these injunctions are issued from the Civil Courts - doesn't that mean that mean that only civil remedies are available for this lawyer's clients? ie: you break a civil injunction, the company has to sue you --instead of :you break a criminal law, the cops nick you.

Looks like another scare-off tactic really: you announce an injunction and hopefully timid protesters stay away leaving the target company with less people on their doorstep.

But if I'm wrong, the cops enforce the injunction by herding people away and nicking people who argue. Which sounds like normal except they have another law under which to herd you away?

I don't want to look complacent or smug but remember when people were worried the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 would end hunt sabbing.


No - it's issued by the civil court but has criminal penalties

11.02.2004 22:14

The injunctions are issued by the civil courts, but breaching one is, afaik, the criminal offence of contempt of court. Perhaps someone else can add detail on the penalties.

This is analogues to interim posession orders, used against squatters, which create a criminal offence of not leaving the premisis, 24 hours after the order is served, after a civil hearing.


5 years

11.02.2004 23:39

All the injunctions carry the same possible sentences. A max of 5 years and a £25000 fine for contempt of court OR the company can prosecute under normal laws. NOT both. However, the police do not understand it either so get confused and arrest people for the wrong things etc...

It is not just a scare tactic. The companies are putting all the can into these injunctions. I read somewhere that the Japanese customers of HLS are very scared, so much that Lord Sainsbury flew to Japan to reassure them!?! (i will try to find a source for that i think it was on

The injunctions are so widely worded that blowing a whistle anywhere in the UK can get you arrested under the injunction (so long as you have been served) IF it is in the earshot of a worker of one of the companies. It is a blatant attempt to oppress the right to protest.

Just have a read of the injunctions and you will see how wildly stupid they are. (I heard that 2 cops in Thornton spent 2 hours re-reading the injunction just so they could come and threaten a protester for banging a drum - outside the exclusion zone. Later (several weeks that is) 2 protesters were arrested up there for doing just that?!?!

mail e-mail:

response to questions

12.02.2004 10:04

"Barney" is right - the whole point of these injunctions is so the companies can invoke the "contempt of court" part, which is a criminal offense with a potential 5 years jail sentence. The companies can still sue you, but this way they can have the police involved, and the use of the criminal courts means that they can get bigger jail sentences out of it.

There have now been a number of arrests in the UK for things like using drums/megaphones outside(!) of the injunction areas and also for simply leafleting. All the evidence used in the injunction hearings used to justify such wide ranging restrictions was based on actions which were already illegal and covered by other laws. The effect of the injunctions has been to attempt to suppress actions which were still legal, giving the companies and police powers to repress them. The other thing to note is how vague and broad ranging the definitions provided - again this is deliberate to give the police more scope. Welcome to repression.

Got my email address wrong - should have been

mail e-mail:

Virtual Protest Under attack

19.02.2004 18:45

It is not only our physical right to protest that is under threat, web pages are now being targetted. Clifford Chance, one of the largest law firms in the country, on behalf of Cambridge University, have bullied and threatened the ISP of SPEAC (
into severley censoring the web site of SPEAC.

This is all without a court order and without SPEAC having any input into what actually got removed from their own site!

Beware anyone who runs a web site, even if it's only for informative purposes.
The right to disseminate information or protest on the internet
is being curtailed.

Carl Cunningham