F a i r f o r d C o a c h A c t i o n
This campaign is featured in the film Taking Liberties...
We won a huge victory at the House of Lords on Wednesday 13 December 2006
"If you only see one case this year make it this one!" Mark Thomas, Comedian
Amnesty International recently voiced "concern about the chilling effect on the rights to freedom of assembly, peaceful protest and expression, insofar as the judgments finding that preventing the coaches from proceeding to Fairford was lawful, and that, as a result, the police actions had not violated Jane Laportes right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression" (From Europe and Central Asia - Summary of Amnesty Internationals Concerns in the Region - January-June 2004).
Click here to read more quotes.
What has happened with the case so far?
The Fairford Coach case appeared at the House of Lords on 23-26 October 2006 and Judgement was delivered on Wednesday 13 December 2006. The judgement arrived just short of the 4 year anniversary of the events that led to the case (and 2 years after the last court hearings in the Court of Appeal). We won the case, and this result cannot be legally challenged by the police. There is excellent coverage of the case on the Indymedia UK feature about our win.
PRESS ENQUIRIES: See our PRESS page for full details, and visit our ABOUT page for background and previous press coverage. Note that we provide a page of quotes and a page of video and photo resources (features a number of free high quality photos for press use and details on our broadcast quality digital footage). If you wish to be be on our list to receive future press releases, phone 0781 458 7361 (or you can send a request e-mail to press <at> fairfordcoachaction.org.uk)
MOVIES AVAILABLE! The two movies by coach passengers are now available on a DVD and to view online (On the Buses). These are available for free to community cinemas and campaigning groups. Click here to read about the movies.
Background: How 120+ People were "Coach-napped" on their way from London to Fairford.
On 22 March 2003, the police used surprisingly extreme tactics to prevent more than 120 activists from reaching a legally sanctioned anti-war demonstration in Fairford, (Gloucestershire, UK). The demonstration outside a US Airforce Base in Fairford was well attended with estimates of up to 5,000 activists attending. Among the scheduled speakers on the day were writer George Monbiot, Green MEP Caroline Lucas, and writer/comic Mark Thomas. The people who police prevented from attending were a diverse group with a broad range of affiliations. The main thing that they had in common was the desire to travel from London by coach and the intention of joining the legal protest in Fairford. Two of the four main scheduled speakers for the Fairford demonstration were travelling on these coaches from London.
After the coaches had travelled two and a half hours from London, the coaches were stopped by police just miles from the demonstration. Using section 60 powers (of the Public Order and Criminal Justice Act 1994) police slowly searched the coaches for weapons for one and a half hours.
The passengers cooperated with this search, and they were invited to reboard the coaches when the search concluded. NO ARRESTS WERE MADE FOR ANY BEHAVIOR OR ITEMS FOUND. Passengers now believed they were going to proceed to the demonstration at Fairford. After all the passengers boarded, the coaches were forced all the way back to London under a continuous 9 to 12 vehicle police escort.
During the two and a half hour journey to London, no passengers were ever granted access to services/toilets even though repeated requests were made for this permission. Many passengers were frightened to see the police so freely overstepping their legal powers. One passenger described the surreal experience as "just like the movie Speed except that it was the police who were stopping us from slowing down". The coach drivers were threatened with arrest if they didn't comply with the police escort, and the stress they endured during the journey was quite considerable. Currently more than 70 of the coach passengers are involved in an ongoing high court human rights judicial review case against the police.
All of these passengers were held against their will on the coaches for two and a half hours and prevented from exercising their right to protest at a legally agreed demonstration which attracted between 2,000-5,000 demonstrators from across the UK. There was no need to send the three full coaches back to London. The courts heard the judicial review case in January 2004, and the judgment in February 2004 claimed that the police acted unlawfully by detaining the passengers on the coaches. Unfortunately, the courts claimed that the police were right to turn the group of cooperative, unarmed coach passengers away from the legally organised demonstration. The coach passengers have decided to appeal this aspect of the High Court judgement.
Note: The coach passengers were generally travelling as individuals, not as groups. The individuals included a range of different backgrounds and affiliation. Coach passengers included members of the following groups (and many more)-
- Pacifists - Amnesty International - CND - Volunteers
from Indymedia UK - Voices in
the Wilderness UK - ARROW - War Resisters International - Women In Black
- Stop the War Coalition - Americans Against War - WOMBLES - September
11th Families for Peaceful Tommorrows - The d10 Group - ISM London - Rhythms
TO COACH PASSENGERS: Visit our Help page for advice.
IF YOU WISH
TO PARTICIPATE IN A GROUP LEGAL ACTION: Visit our Help
page for advice.
For enquiries that are not press related, people can contact us at the
following address (but remove the words NOSPAM before sending so that it just
If you don't have e-mail, we can be contacted at Fairford Coach Action, c/o HSG, PO Box 2474, London, N8
You can also leave a phone message at 020 8374 5027 (HSG).
You can also try phoning 0781 458 7361
(this website was updated by Jesse Schust)