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U.K. Anti-Bush Demonstration Banned from Whitehall

Stop the War | 12.06.2008 03:32 | Anti-militarism | London

Be sure to come out and join in the festivities.

Bring cameras, and anything that makes noise.

Why not block the War Criminal altogether?

Why not demand that he be arrested?

U.K. Anti-Bush demonstration banned from Whitehall

2008-06-11 | The Stop the War Coalition has been informed by the Metropolitan Police that a proposed march, co-organised with CND and the British Muslim Initiative, to protest George Bush's visit will not be allowed. The Coalition has organised scores of marches on this route, including during Bush's last visit in 2003. It seems that when George W Bush visits this country traditional rights of assembly are to be removed from the people. This would be unacceptable for the visit of any foreign leader, but for George Bush, a man many regard as a war criminal, it is particularly deplorable.

We are calling on those who care for our democratic rights to come to Parliament Square at 5.0 pm on Sunday 15 June. Some of those who signed statements accusing Bush of war crimes will be leading this protest.
"George Bush has been dictating British foreign policy for many years. Now it appears his security services are determining our rights of protest. This is a disgrace and we will challenge the ban." Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition

"The ban on the Stop The War Coalition march in protest at the visit of President Bush to this country is a totalitarian act. In what is supposed to be a free country the Coalition has every right to express its views peacefully and openly. This ban is outrageous and makes the term 'democracy' laughable".

David Wilson
Press Office
Stop the War Coalition
27 Britannia Street
London WC1X 9JP
T: +44(0)20 7278 6694
M: +44(0)7951 579 064

Stop the War


Is it a ban really?

12.06.2008 11:03

I would like someone to clarify for me if what this mean if that the STWC has stopped complying with POA 1986 at last. This is really what happened during another supposed ban of a STWC march last October:

'Last October, the organizers of the Stop The War Coalition march to Parliament had notified the police in advance and sat down with them in order to negotiate the conditions of that protest (stewards, route, time, etc.), thus complying with Sections 11 and 12 of POA 1986. However, the Police walked out from negotiations with the Stop the War Coalition, announcing that they were not ‘facilitating’ their march – an euphemism meaning that they would use any means, including force, to stop that march happening. Many people were under the impression that, in doing so, the police had used powers granted them under SOCPA. In fact, when the police tried to justify the ban they mentioned a Sessional Order, under the 1839 Metropolitan Police Act [18], that was in reality an order from Parliament to the Police ‘to enable free passage by Peers and Members on days on which Parliament is sitting’. However, it was not actually possible for the police to legally use this Sessional Order to criminalise the organizers of the march, especially because non-compliance by protesters could not have constituted any offence. That Sessional Order is just an instruction of Parliament to the police and not legislation. However, Section 13 of POA 1986 gives the police the power to prohibit marches. This section justifies the prohibition of a procession in a particular area for no longer than three months when the police ‘reasonably believes’ that the procession could result in serious public disorder. At the end, the police decided not to exercise this power and finally allowed the march to happen.

These facts were largely mis-represented not only by the organizers of the 8th of October march but also the mainstream press. For example, in an article published in the Observer on October 7, 2007, Henry Porter forgets to mention that the STWC had been complying with POA 1986 all along and that power to ban that march was not really contained in SOCPA or the Sessional Order, but in POA 1986:

"That is where it becomes a problem. Instead of using the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, the law preventing demonstration within a kilometre of Parliament Square without police permission, the authorities have disinterred a Sessional Order of the House of Commons of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, passed at the time of the Chartists.

With archaic relish, they have banned the march because it may impede the progress of any MP or peer who wants to attend Parliament (it is surprising there is no mention of Mr Speaker's coach and four). The organisers have guaranteed that access, but the ban stays in place, which is odd given that the Prime Minister is on record as saying he wants to repeal the section of SOCPA that requires police permission."' [1]

SOCPA 2005 only covers static demonstrations (assemblies and lone protesters) around Parliament and other 'designated sites'. So really, the STWC does not need to ask for 'authorisation' to the Police when what they are doing is giving notification in advance to the Police (section 11, POA 1986) and allowing for the police to put conditions on their march (section 12, POA 1986). The case is, because under SOCPA 2005 the police cannot really ban a demonstration, giving prior notification under POA 1986 or asking for 'authorisation' under SOCPA 2005 are exactly the same things.

The question here is: Has the STWC notified in advance and negotiated with the Police the conditions of that protest? In that case, if the Police has told them they cannot have their march, they well deserved it (if they had not asked for permission in the first place the police wouldn't have had the chance to say 'no') If what happened was that the STWC has stopped complying with POA 1986, in that case, WELL DONE TO THEM AND I'LL BE COMING TO THEIR MARCH!.

Then, maybe they have realised that accepting the police's motto: 'you tell us when you're protesting and we'll tell you how' is a waste of time apart from a STRAIGHTFORWARD COLLABORATION WITH THE CRIMINALISATION OF PROPER PROTEST.

Does anyone know what this apparent 'ban' really means?

[1] Campaign for Free Assembly's 'Freedom to Protest: What Does the Proposed Repeal of Sections 132-38 of SOCPA Really Mean?'. See full article at: