(London Assembly Green Party Group news release)
Green Party Group Press Office: 020 7983 4964/ 07810 156 886
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, January 14, 2004

(see the Greens site for a copy of this news release and the day's preceeding news release)

Deputy Mayor appalled by Met Police Illegal Arrests

Vigil at High Court, The Strand
Thursday 15 January 2004, 9am.

London's Green Deputy Mayor, Jenny Jones, will on Thursday support demonstrators at the High Court when they bring a judicial review of the Metropolitan Police's action at a peace vigil before the war against Iraq.

Police refused to allow 150 demonstrators to go to the event at the Fairford base last March and instead turned them back and escorted them to London over several hours without toilet or meal breaks. The protestors will be asking the High Court on Thursday to declare the operation unlawful.

Jenny Jones is also a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and she has written to Commissioner Sir John Stephens warning him she intends to raise the issue at a forthcoming MPA meeting.

To join a peaceful demonstration is accepted as a basic right in this country said Jenny, but last March when 150 demonstrators went to exercise this right in Fairford they were, in effect, arrested without having done anything wrong. The demonstration had been previously agreed by the police, there were no subsequent charges of these 150, and while prisoners in cells have to be monitored, given meals and toilet facilities, these people were imprisoned on three coaches for several hours with no facilities whatever. It was clearly in contravention of Article 5 of the Human Rights Act which prohibits arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.

I will be giving my support to the demonstrators at the High Court, and will be ensuring there are forthright questions put to the Commissioner at a forthcoming Police Authority Meeting.

Notes for Editors

1. Fairford Coach Action: http://www.fairfordcoachaction.org.uk. The case will be listed under the name Laporte v. Gloucestershire Police.

2. The solicitor representing the plaintiff is John Halford at Bindman & Partners on 020 7833 4433.

3. The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force in October 2000. It requires the police to avoid breaching key European Convention Human Rights Articles. Amongst the key rights are Article 5 (deprivation of liberty), Article 8 (interference with private life), Article 10 (freedom of speech and expression) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly).


(Note: The text here is faithfully copied from an e-mail received by the Fairford Coach Action. Phone numbers in Notes for Editors item 1 have been removed, but otherwise the text should be accurate. The Fairford Coach Action accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions. Please contact the London Assembly Green Party Press office for an original of this press release.)