the serious organised crime and police act came into force on the 1st august last year, section 132 of which requires any person intending to hold a demonstration near parliament to seek authorisation from the police and to adhere to any conditions that the police may apply.
brian haw won a court case in july last year against the home secretary and the metropolitan police which gave him permission to apply for judicial review, and quashed some provisions of the act, on the basis that it could not apply to his continuing demonstration that had started in june 2001.
he won the case and since august 1st his demonstration has been the ONLY one that has not needed police permission. however, the home sec and the met appealed against this decision, and today's verdict was the response to that appeal.
the appeal has been allowed.
section 132 DOES apply to brian haw
costs have been set aside and brian will not be made to pay any costs.
permission to appeal to the house of lords is REFUSED
permission to stay in parliament square pending any petition to the lords is also REFUSED.
brian is not prevented from petitioning the lords himself, but he is now subject to the socpa act until any further future judgement.
brian himself was not in court this morning, preferring to continue his demonstration against government policy in iraq, against the use of depleted uranium which will poison the land and the people for millions of years, against the wholesale looting of the country by big business, against the abuse of civilians, women and children, and against the lies that this government and the mainstream media told and continue to tell.
once the verdict was announced, the press pack moved in on brian, and asked their usual facile questions. he tried to get his real message across, not pandering to their soundbite mentality, and berating them for asking pointless questions.
he also told us that he had known the outcome of this verdict for the past week but would have been in contempt of court to divulge it - so he was not actually surprised today.
meanwhile, other seasoned demonstrators and anti-socpa campaigners seized the opportunity of press coverage to launch their own messages about the need for a real movement to recover the civil rights that are being stolen from us month by month under this government. police had obviously been told to act very softly softly while the media were there, and turned a blind eye even to the use of a megaphone, which is banned under socpa legislation.
brian's solicitor, steve goss, from bindmans, stated that they had now notified the police that brian would be staying in the square for the foreseeable future.
under the act, the police will HAVE to give permission for brian's demo, but they may impose conditions which are set out in the act as follows:
"if the senior police officer, having regard to the time or place at which and circumstances in which any public assembly is being held or is intended to be held, reasonably believes that
a) it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community, or
b) the purpose of the persons organising it is the intimidation of others with a view to compelling them not to do an act they have a right to do, or to do an act they have a right not to do,
he may give directions imposing on the persons organising or taking part in the assembly such conditions as to the place at which the assembly may be (or continue to be) held, its maximum duration, or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it, as appear to him necessary to prevent such disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation.
this means there is a possibility that police may impose time restrictions on brian's protest, and thus might require him to remove his extensive fixed banner display. it is unclear yet what their response will be.
it is understood senior met officers were meeting at 12.30 to debate these issues and will be contacting steve from bindmans with some information later. at present, and certainly while the cameras are there, the police have no intention of wading in and removing his presence, but under cover of darkness who knows...........?
if you want to help in any way, especially if you have a camera and can spend time in the square, please look at brian's website for info on a regular basis and get in touch.
the anti-socpa campaigning picnics will continue every sunday in parliament square and all are invited - bring ideas and food to share. they start around 1.30 every week and all are welcome.
more info on these can be found at www.peopleincommon.org
i will post more information on the police response as an addition here later. there will also be a short film in a separate post on indymedia later.
Itsme - the JamCam is now off "for operational reasons"
Mike Doherty - keep tuned here for the latest news!! :)
after senior officers met at twelve thirty to plan their next move, they called brian's solicitor, steve grosz from bindman's, and stated that having received his official notification and application for authorisation, that for the time being brian's demonstration is "authorised without prejudice" and that they will be making further contact relating to any conditions they wish to impose later.
there is a jubilant mood in the square among supporters at this news.
however, on bbc london tonight this evening, reporter sarah harris stated that she had been told by "senior sources" that brian's protest would be removed within hours not days. this is in direct contradiction to their assurances to his solicitor.
now maybe this is a journalist trying to inject some drama into the situation, but given that police have powers under the act to modify and impose conditions at any time, and given that they don't want to act while the press and many supporters are around, these mixed messages may well be planned.
if anyone with a video camera fancies a night in the square, it may well be an important one!
there are still around ten activist supporters of brian with him at the square.
several are intending to stay all night.
a reporter from bbc london has left a bbc camera with one of brian's supporters so that any police attempts to remove him will be documented.
there is as yet no clarification of the contradiction between the bbc statement that 'senior sources' had said it would be a matter of hours not days before brian would be removed, and the met's conversation with brian's solicitor where they stated he had been given 'authorisation without predujice'
everyone remains vigilant.
police passed through the square in vehicles regularly throughout the night, including an encircling forward intelligence team, so there was a feeling of surveillance, but otherwise brian was left alone.
an indymedia journalist was hassled by community support officers when he tried to film them moving on a homeless woman at about 2.30 this morning. in a bout of 'little hitler syndrome' they threatened him under section 44 of the terrorism act, but soon backed down presumably under police instruction. (these poor misguided folk only get a few weeks training before going on the beat in their nice uniforms, so they can't be expected to understand the intricacies of every modern law!)
major newspapers have big features on brian this morning.
despite the daily mail's crowing "gone at last", the situation is that he is still there for the time being at least, and intends to remain indefinitely while the next rounds of legal argument continue.
more news here as soon as we know.
brian was visited by senior police at lunchtime. although his solicitor steve grosz of bindman's had 'notified' the police of his ongoing demonstration, they are demanding that he fill in the official authorisation form. they will probably give him until tomorrow to comply, and then as permitted under socpa, will notify him of the conditions they wish to impose on his demonstration. non-compliance with either the authorisation demand or the subsequent conditions will open him up to immediate arrest. it is felt likely that the conditions will impact upon his fixed banners and severely curtail the size and nature of his protest.
meanwhile, it is often forgotten, and hardly ever reported that there is another parliament square resident protestor. he is the russian alex, who sleeps at the corner of the square. today police spoke to him through an interpreter, and delivered the same warning as they have brian. police video and photography teams have been at the square and are currently filming.
unless his solicitor can produce some miracle, brian is expected to either sign or face arrest tomorrow.
assuming that brian completes the form tomorrow, there is likely to be a period of cat and mouse, negotiation, and compromise over the next few days, but ultimately, the police are acting for the government, and are intending to break brian's protest down, sooner rather than later.
supporters in the square are trying to rest tonight after a hectic 48 hours, and restoring their energies for the battles to come. any night-time events will be reported here, but the general feeling is that the next few hours are expected to be quiet.
after eight months of documenting and campaigning around socpa, i can report that arrests tend to occur only when mainstream media is not present, and are very unlikely while the media is there.
a large act of defiance on sunday would have a very low risk of arrest and would help the ongoing battle against the current destruction of the civil rights and freedoms which we had previously fought for over hundreds of years.
as soon as details are finalised i will post them here. in the meantime, keep checking back for updates to the situation in parliament sqaure.
(you may need to empty your cache and refresh your browser to be sure of seeing the latest additions and comments here)
if nothing else happens, the sunday picnic will at any rate be meeting as normal (www.peopleincommon.org) - this is not generally a demonstration, but a meeting for like-minded souls to plan, brainstorm, meet, eat and drink. all are welcome - bring ideas and food to share. it normally starts around 1.30pm every sunday in the middle of parliament square.
at around 7am metal barrier fences were installed - this is a normal weekly occurence on a wednesday for prime minister's question time. a few foot police are always on duty on the pavement in front of parliament, and although they obviously keep an eye on things in the square they never get directly involved, calling instead for another unit if they see a need. there is no out-of-the-ordinary police presence.
there is no news yet as to brian and his solicitor's decision on how to respond to the police request to fill in a socpa authorisation form. there is distinct pressure from the police not to let it slip another day.
protestors in the square have used the metal barriers to hang a large peace flag at the whitehall corner of the square.
there are several supporters in the square with brian, including his long-standing right-hand woman 'maria gallestegui', who recently won her appeal against a guilty verdict arising from her arrest at the first 'unauthorised' demonstration in the square last august. also present is 'barbara tucker' who was arrested last year for standing outside parliament on her own with a small banner which read "i am not the serious organised criminal". found guilty under the socpa law, she was fired from her local authority job as a carer, and has since visited the square to campaign against the law on a regular basis, leading to arrest or "report" on several occasions.
police seem to have accepted brian's solicitor's written 'notification' in lieu of one of their formal authorisation forms, and have already delivered a letter setting out certain conditions on his demonstration. brian and his solicitor have not yet formally responded to the conditions set out, but police have made it clear they will not tolerate a long deliberation.
inspector ed sherry is expected to deliver a further letter some time soon which may give some indication of the time-frame they regard as reasonable.
although brian's letter was marked "notification without prejudice" meaning that it was not legally-speaking an acceptance of the socpa law and any conditions resulting from it, the police are clearly treating it as such, and after monday's hearing have the upper hand.
once brian complies with any condition, it more or less nails him legally and within the law the police then have total control over his demonstration, able to clear him out at a future date with very little notice under the pretence of a security threat or suchlike. on the other hand, after monday's ruling he is technically already in breach of the act, and if he doesn't comply with conditions soon, then he faces arrest.
many of brian's supporters have arranged to meet eachother in the square at noon on sunday and some of them are inviting anyone to join them who would like too. members of the press may receive personal invitations too, and musicians, clowns, picnickers, and others might feel drawn to what promises to be a large impromptu party on the grass.
blair must have felt all aglow inside remembering his own great speech - "when i pass protestors every day.... i may not like what they call me, but i thank god they can. that's called freedom"
police visiting alex the russian protestor have now left the square after leaving him a letter outlining the conditions his demo will be under. they have limited the dimensions of his display quite considerably, and although there is no time limit on his presence in the square they have severely limited his ability to sleep and live there with clauses that demand that he must not have any articles that can conceal or contain other items, that everything he possesses there must be on show in such a way that it is "possible to tell at a glance that there are no suspicious items", and the conditions may be added to or varied by the senior officer present if they reasonably feel it necessary under the terms of the act.
judging from the conditions laid out in russian alex's letter, it seems to me (and please note this is a subjective comment) that brian faces a difficult choice. if he gives in to the conditions, he faces a severely restricted demonstration, and the likelihood of further and more and more arbitrary police interventions, making his protest gradually more impotent. if he stands defiant, then the police will at some stage, probably sooner than later, move in and remove his entire protest. this may have a more positive effect in that it will achieve far more publicity, galvanise others to action, and once again bring the question of civil liberties to a wider audience. only brian can decide for himself.
in the meantime, he has been going strong this afternoon, and after seeing blair drive past, he has been continuing to use his loud bell in the manner of a town crier, and calling out:
"ring-ring, ring-ring, ring-ring,
unclean, unclean, unclean,
usa - uk, lepers of the world,
come and see what we do to our neighbour's babies,
depleted uranium munitions, our war material, our nuclear waste,
see what it does to the babies,
weep, mourn, repent!
ring-ring, ring-ring, ring-ring,
bring out your dead, bring out your dead, bring out your dead mps,
we want live mps please, live mps with living, loving hearts, not hearts of stone.
see what we do to our neighbour's babies,
usa - uk, weep, mourn, repent!"
a last note on the bbc jamcams. there are two separate cams, and for some reason they were switched over at tea-time. during the day we saw the high-quality surveillance cam which is mounted on the building at the corner of whitehall and great george street. later, it switched to the cam on a high pole in the central traffic island at the end of whitehall. i've noticed in the past that the building mounted one moves around and often points at the pavement below. it is very high quality - i've seen footage from it in socpa court cases. maybe we shouldn't read anything into all this. i'll get my anorak :)
everyone had a peaceful night in the square, the sun is out and spirits are high.
we are now into the fourth day of peaceful but wholly defiant resistance to monday's verdict in the high court.
a mass gathering of supporters of freedom will be in the square at noon on sunday - with media coverage.
in reply to 'anorak' - indymedia are everywhere! :)
more reports coming through the day
the conditions, including a maximum dimension of 3 metres in any direction, put such restrictions on his protest that they open the way to remove him later with very little notice.
police have told his solicitor brian grosz from bindman and partners, that if by 3pm today no sufficient steps have been taken to comply with the conditions "action will be taken to enforce the provision". this means brian would face prosecution for failure to comply with the conditions and face fine or imprisonment.
brian has responded that the terms and conditions as stated are unreasonable, and that he requires further time to negotiate them. he says that it is impossible to comply given that the net effect of the 10 comprehensive conditions would leave his demo as it is "hung, drawn and quartered".
unless brian takes steps to comply, for example by dismantling parts of his display, then the police will take action.
we are not yet sure whether the police will forcibly dismantle the display but it seems certain they will report him for prosecution.
supporters and media are urged to attend the square this afternoon if possible.
Thursday 11 May 2006
POLICE TO START ACTION TO REMOVE BRIAN HAW'S DISPLAY
The police have given Brian Haw a deadline of 3pm today, Thursday 11 May, to remove parts of his display in order to comply with a set of conditions that they are placing on his demonstration. If no action has been taken by Mr Haw by 3pm, the police have stated that "action will be taken to enforce the provision".
Under Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA), the police may impose conditions relating to the place, time and duration of a demonstration, how many people may attend it, the number and size of banners or placards used, and maximum permissible noise levels.
After the Court of Appeal decision on 8 May, which brought Mr Haw's demonstration under SOCPA regulation, he was given authorisation to continue his protest but informed that conditions would be applied. By law, outline authorisation must be given by the police.
Among the conditions the police have imposed on Mr Haw's demonstration, is one that states that his display must not be more than 3 metres in any direction. This means that almost all of Mr Haw's display would have to be removed.
Mr Haw has asked the police for more time to correspond with them about what he considers to be 'unreasonable' conditions.
Mr Haw said, "It is impossible for me to comply with the conditions within the timescale given. The net effect of a serious of 7 comprehensive conditions placed upon me will be to leave my demonstration hung drawn and quartered. This has to be challenged."
He continued, "It should not be the duty of the police to remove this evidence of torture and genocide that the people of the world are flocking to see."
Mr Haw's solicitors are considering seeking a judicial review of the conditions that the police have imposed on his protest.
Emma Sangster, supporter of Brian Haw, 07791 486484
Stephen Grosz at Bindman and Partners on 0207 7833 4433.
i'll post more details shortly of what was said.
they cautioned brian, and he began to make a statement, telling them that the conditions they had stipulated were wholly unreasonable. anyone that knows brian will understand when i say that the inspector was overheard telling the station "this is going to be a long one", and it seems that surrounded by brian's supporters and some press, that amongst the mayhem, the police decided to retreat.
as they tried to leave the square, saying that they were going to report back to the station, brian and the throng followed them, causing a bit of a commotion on the road.
it is unclear now what exactly they will be reporting back, as they left without taking brian's complete statement.
there is some conjecture among brian's supporters that this whole maneouvre may have been an exercise to see how quickly the press and supporters could mobilise, as it seems the police themselves were a little unclear why they were there. there was certainly a good turn-out and most importantly the press were there.
more news from the square as it comes - stay tuned!!
the latest clarification on the legal situation and what happened this afternoon is as follows. brian was cautioned and told that he was being 'reported' to the crown prosecution service who will decide whether to press charges and summons him. this could mean a short delay while the cps decide, but it also neatly side-steps the need for police to actually arrest him in front of the cameras this week, while still allowing the legal process to roll on unhindered.
indeed, i have some heart-warming tales about overnight policing - wish that it could always be this way.
at about 2am, a drunken scottish man turned up at brian's pitch, and in his intoxicated state was clearly looking for a fight. as he was shouting and being abusive, he attracted the attention of community support officers who were on duty. he continued ranting and became physically violent, but police attended swiftly, and he was moved away from the scene towards st james park, and persuaded to leave the area without arrest. an all-round example of excellent policing.
later in the night, one of brian's supporters and a journalist were walking back to the square from a toilet visit, and a police van passed them slowly. the police in the van gave them both a genuine thumbs-up!
at about 5.30, a journalist started to get some evocative dawn video footage, including the mice of parliament square. as he trained his camera across parliament he noticed the gate guards making notes and pointing at him, then community support officers approached him. once he had shown them his press card and explained his presence he was left in peace.
future updates will now go to the feature article in the middle collumn
check back regularly as any urgent call-outs from the square will go up there as they happen.