UK Newswire Archive
17-01-2012 03:21US university, corporate, and pharmaceutical profiteers from animal torture
are upset about suggested new guidelines
after a postponed hearing at the high court today, parliament square protestors won the right to sustain their injunction against westminster council, stopping the council from enforcing the new and untested PASRA law to clear tents and other structures from the square. the injunction will run until a further 2-day high court hearing during march, which will effectively decide the legality of the new law.
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about a dozen campaigners and supporters turned up at the high court this morning, attaching 'right to protest' banners on the court railings in the bright morning sunshine.
all parties shuffled into the small basement court ready to hear the case, but the judge said there'd been a mix-up, she wasn't sure why we'd all turned up, and the hearing wasn't till this afternoon. in fact, everyone had received the official court listings on friday afternoon, and the case was listed for 10.30, but the judge asked all to return at 2pm.
the 'claimant' in this case is maria gallestegui, who runs the 'peace strike' protest in parliament square, her two large boxes creating quite an impressive presence opposite the gates to parliament. along with the 'parliament square peace campaign', who continue the late brian haw's ten-year vigil, she received an enforcement letter from westminster council on the 19th december, the commencement date for the PASRA legislation giving the council powers to prevent overnight stays in the square and to seize sleeping equipment, tents and other structures. (see my previous articles for a fuller background etc)
so, maria went to the high court and asked for a temporary injunction to stop westminster (who then became the 'defendant') from exercising this new power without a judicial review.
today's hearing was meant to decide whether westminster had the power or not. if the case went against maria, westminster could have forcibly removed her tent and possibly her boxes.
this morning's delay in proceedings gave maria's barrister, jessica simor from matrix chambers, a chance to put a proposal to the westminster lawyers in the corridor outside the court. she told them that even if they were to win the case today, she would immediately be demanding an appeal, and this would have more cost implications to the council. there is also a separate case in the lower courts in which westminster are prosecuting the parliament square protestors for 'obstructing the highway'. jessica also warned that if westminster did go ahead with any enforcement, that there then may be further appeals and the possibility of substantial damages added to any costs.
maria's barrister suggested that the sensible route, since there are clearly overlapping human rights concerns, would be for both cases to be conflated, and to avoid otherwise unavoidable costs, that westminster should back off today, allowing the whole issue to be properly scrutinised in law before any action.
so during the morning, the defendant's (ie westminster's) lawyers had a lot to think about.
by the afternoon, a larger solidarity protest was organised, with a group of supporters joining from the st paul's 'occupy lsx' protest just up the road. the court filled up, and i counted 32 supporters, along with maria's legal team, the westminster legal team, some metropolitan police lawyers, who are an 'interested party' in the case, and police observers from the charing cross events team (who enforce and co-ordinate SOCPA-authorised protests in the area of parliament). there was also a lawyer appearing on behalf of the secretary of state. he said he was there in order to add the home office as a further 'interested party' since it was their new legislation that was being challenged.
in the court were also two uniformed police officers, and outside the high court (for both the morning and the afternoon sessions) were a forward intelligence gathering team, who were taking photographs of all the supporters. two TSG vans were also on standby nearby - perhaps they were worried a group might try to 'occupy the high court'!
once the session got underway, it became clear that the defendant's lawyers had had a word with their westminster colleagues, and backed down over their planned challenge to the injunction.
it was up to maria's barrister to inform the judge that all parties had reached agreement and that the new law would be tested in court BEFORE any enforcement took place. this was a huge victory for maria, as westminster's official response to the court had been a request for the judge to strike down the injunction and allow seizure, after which maria would have the right to try for a judicial review. instead now, westminster have agreed not to act UNTIL the legal arguments are tested.
all this didn't go down too well with the lawyer from the home office. he pointed out that the law had been drawn up by government and was 'primary criminal law'. it was, he said, a most unusual position for a new law to be challenged by the judiciary before it is even used. he was anxious that any new hearing should take place as soon as possible, and also raised the concern that groups such as the 'occupy' movement, might yet try to establish new camps in the square.
so a lot of diaries were consulted, and eventually it was decided that, after skeleton arguments were drawn up, responded to, and further evidence given, the court hearing could take place over two days in the middle of march. in the meantime, westminster are warned off applying the new law, at least on the 'claimant' maria, although it was briefly mentioned in court, and appeared sensible that no action would be taken against the 'parliament square peace campaign' either. however, this evening's news is otherwise
today's ruling will also have a knock on effect on proposed byelaws that westminster, the dept of culture, and the GLA are all considering, which would introduce the same ban on political camping throughout westminster, the royal parks and trafalgar square.
althought the westminster public consultation on new byelaws is now closed, the other two are still open this week, so it would be great to get a large number of negative responses in to these before they close. given that the whole PASRA camping legislation is under question for human rights compatibility now, it seems very premature to plan byelaws before any hearing and ruling. however, all the consultations give concerns over the growing 'occupy' movement as one of the reasons for wanting rapidly bring in what they refer to as a 'premature' reaction.
the consultations can be found at http://www.culture.gov.uk/consultations/8710.aspx for the royal parks (ending next monday the 23rd jan), and the GLA one at http://www.london.gov.uk/consultation/draft-byelaws-trafalgar-square-and-parliament-square-garden (ending on sunday the 22nd) for trafalgar square.
16-01-2012 23:58PICKET ADECCO EMPLOYMENT AGENCY
STOP THEM SUPPLYING STRIKE BREAKERS
15A-17A BLYTHSWOOD SQUARE GLASGOW G2 4AD
FRIDAY 20TH JANUARY
Facebook event page:
despite high court hearings today and the PASRA law effectively on hold, the metropolitan police and westminster council have begun a forceful operation this evening to remove tents and other structures from around the parliament square protest.
later on i will be posting a report on today's court proceedings, but briefly, maria gallestegui's 'peace strike' scored a victory against westminster council in court today which was thought likely to apply to ALL the protestors in parliament square.
however, this evening, dozens of police, two police lorries, an ambulance, and two forward intelligence teams have turned up and launched a strike against the more than decade long continuous 'parliament square peace campaign', removing any items that could be used to facilitate sleeping (which is the criterion under the new repressive PASRA legislation) as well as any megaphones or sound-amplifying equipment.
it is despicable that they should do this before legal arguments are heard on the compatibility of the new law with human rights, and they've picked one of the coldest nights of the season to conduct their gestapo-like sortie.
(the gestapo law passed by the german government in 1936 gave the gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial oversight, exempted from responsibility to the administrative courts)
Support still needed at court on Tuesday morning but two cases adjourned pending outcome of judicial review.
16-01-2012 13:44Two court hearings have been set for Occupy Sheffield, the first one this Wednesday, 18th January at 10 am when the owner of the Salvation Army Citadel on Cross Burgess Street, Tandem Properties Limited, will claim possession of the property. The second on Thursday 26th January at 10:30am when the Cathedral will also claim possession of the property where Occupy Sheffield is located.
16-01-2012 07:33ROMANIANS have joined the worldwide uprising against neoliberalism with a weekend of protests in which molotovs were hurled at police.
15-01-2012 21:27It is with great disappointment that I receive the news from foreign media publications and Libyan sources that our President now has 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in Malta and they are about to make their descent into Libya.
15-01-2012 21:24With deaths attributed to climate change now nearing an estimated 350,000 a year http://ignatianeconet.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/close-to-ten-million-climate-deaths-by-2030-study-warns/ and with the annual COP17 UN climate talks just over, SchNEWS looks at the events of the last few years and assesses where we are heading.
15-01-2012 21:21From Bristol with Love is a showcase for local music, local news and new forms of local thinking.
15-01-2012 17:57Mary Flynn is an Irish Traveller from Dale Farm who is appealing the
refusal of planning permission for her plot. Mary’s appeal would be helped
by supporters and residents of Dale Farm sending letters supporting her
appeal. So TSN is calling for supporters to write letters.
15-01-2012 17:23The sorry tale of the EDL is perhaps wending it's way to an anti-climax. Yesterday saw a piss-poor turn out in Barking end up in an ignominious defeat in Whitechapel.
IN Court 22 at the High Court on Monday 16th January 10.30am, judgment will be passed on whether Westminster Council can clear away protestors from Parliament Square.
PRESS RELEASE 15 January 2012
High Court test for new restrictions on protest near Parliament
Monday 16 January 2012, 10.30am, Court 22, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London.
On Monday the High Court will determine if the new restrictions on protest around Parliament can be challenged by judicial review.
The hearing could affect plans by Westminster Council, the GLA and Government to extend restrictions to a much wider area.
The new law will allow the police or ‘authorised officers’ to confiscate sleeping equipment and effectively ban overnight protests. Anyone seen with sleeping equipment could be arrested and have a court order made against them, for an unlimited period, to ban them from the area. They would receive a criminal conviction and possibly a heavy fine. The new legislation will also outlaw any form of ‘amplified noise’ such as megaphones which organisers of demonstrations rely on for conveying the message of their protest. (1)
Despite concerns about the legislation (2), the new restrictions on protest under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRASRA) came into force in December but Westminster Council has been unable to act on them so far because of a temporary injunction brought by protestors in Parliament Square.
Maria Gallastegui, who has been protesting for peace opposite Parliament for 4 years, argues that she is authorised to continue her protest under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA). Although PRASRA was brought in to replace the SOCPA restrictions on protest, the SOCPA provisions will not actually be repealed until 31 March 2012.
Westminster Council’s position is that they can go ahead with a seizure and remove the protestors from Parliament Square before the repeal of SOCPA, and face a judicial review of their actions later.
In addition to the PRASRA restrictions in Parliament Square, Westminster Council, the GLA and the Government are planning to roll out similar controls throughout a much wider area. Westminster Council cited “a particular fear that in the light of what happened at St Paul’s, a similar new encampment could appear in the precincts of Westminster Abbey.” (3)
Maria Gallastegui, the claimant in court on Monday, said, “I have authorisation to continue my protest under SOCPA yet the new law means I am no longer able to stay overnight. I don’t see how these two laws can coexist.
“I am here because I am campaigning on serious issues. Sleeping in these conditions is not easy and no-one takes it on lightly. A tent or similar structure for sleeping is a necessary tool of the trade.
“Creating a constant presence has proved to be effective – in Parliament Square and for the Occupy movement. By removing our right to create a constant presence, these news laws will have a significant impact on legitimate peaceful protest.”
Monday 16 January 2012, 10.30am, Court 22, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London
There will be a demonstration in support of the right to protest outside the court from 9.30am
Maria Gallastegui: 07907 233861
Or 07790 117336
1. Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRASRA) sections 142-149 were enacted on December 19th http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/13/part/3/enacted
2. During PRASRA’s passage through Parliament concerns were raised about many expects of the legislation including the dangerous precedent set by giving ‘authorised officer’ (e.g. council officials) power to use ‘reasonable force’ against a member of the public. E.g. Liberty’s Second Reading Briefing on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill in the House of Commons, December 2010
3. Westminster draft new byelaws to restrict protest in the area of Parliament, Whitehall etc
and Dept for Culture, Media and Sport draft new byelaws to restrict protest in Royal Parks and other open spaces
and the GLA draft new byelaws