Today the court gave a landmark ruling that the police had unlawfully breached the Human Rights of anti-war protesters who were detained and prevented from attending a protest at RAF Fairford last March. The court firmly ruled the detention and forced return to London could not be justified and The right not to be arbitrarily detained (article 5 of Human rights convention) had been breached.
Giving judgment, Lord Justice May commented "For practical purposes none of the articles seized were to be regarded as offensive. Two pairs of scissors would not make much of an impression on the fences of the Air base.
However the court went on to rule that the police were acting lawfully in turning the protesters away from the demonstration, a conclusion Mr Halford (solicitor from Bindmans and Partners) described as inconsistent and unsatisfactory. He said:
"It can not be right for police to stifle protest by preventing attendance at a demonstration, simply on the grounds that some who might attend might cause trouble. That would allow the police to prevent any - and in fact every - demonstration taking place."
Leave for appeal has been granted to both sides.
Read Full Judicial Review Case Judgement Text:
Laporte, R v Gloucestershire Constabulary & Ors  EWHC 253
Press Release text from Bindman and Partners
Pictures Outside Court | Video (14Mb .wmv) | Corporate Media Coverage
Previous Reports from Judicial Review Hearing:
Court Report (15/1) | Video of Protest Outside Royal Courts (15/1) | Comments | Corporate Media Reports (15/1)
See Press Release (15/1)
Fairford Coach Campaign Website | Archive Indymedia Coverage | Archive Video Report
The campaigners claimed the police overstepped their powers and furthermore that they breached articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, guaranteeing freedom from arbitrary detention, the freedom of speech and assembly, and respect for physical and psychological integrity.
Last month the Judicial Review hearing saw police statements revealing that at 10.45am an order was issued by Chief Superintendent Lambert to stop and search the coaches including instructions for the coaches to be turned around and escorted non-stop back to London if any 'dangerous items' or items likely to be used to conceal identity were found. Michael Fordham acting on behalf of the protestors had said the police were within their powers to seize certain items, and that they even possibly had the right to detain certain individuals under public order and common laws, but they overstepped the law and infringed both common law and human rights law, by the blanket nature of their action (despite JIC intelligence notes showing that the police were aware that the coach passengers were made up of individuals and members of various groups) and the way evidence was used in an attempt to justify this.
I wonder just how "uncooperative persons" is defined here. Certainly the 120 people on the coaches complied with all requests by the police and were co-operative during the near TWO HOURS that the searches took (that's before they were put back on the coaches and forced back to London). There was even quite a lot of good humour and banter being tossed about!
The people from the coach look like they will appeal. The police have also given leave to appeal and one assumes the MET will push for this.
Don't forget this involved
- The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police
- The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police
- The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Metropolitan Police)
- The Chief Constable West Mercia Constabulary
- The Chief Constable Northamptonshire Constabulary
- The Chief Constable Avon and Somerset Constabulary
- The Chief Constable Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
and the police used THREE barristers, two of whom were QCs.
An appeal will probably take up to one year to progress, with a hearing in maybe 6 months time.
The intelligence, which was credible, related to the coaches as a whole and the passengers were uncooperative when they were asked about their identities and the ownership of the items seized.
Then at para 43 he goes on to note:
My only minor gloss is that the nature of the articles seized from those on the coaches does not seem to me to add much to the intelligence available to Mr Lambert before the coaches arrived, which he himself did not consider would justify arresting the coach passengers when they were stopped at some distance from the air base
At para 16 he noted:
The claimant herself refused to give her name and address when she was asked. It is accepted that she could not be compelled to do so, but suggested that she gave no good reason for not co-operating.
So, it seems that uncooperative in this context means:
1) Refusing to give your name and address when you are NOT legally obliged to, and when it would certainly be passed on to FIT for "intelligence" purposes
2) Not grassing up the owners of the items, which his Lordship said added nothing to the police intelligence, and certainly district judges have accepted that protective wear is for protection, in the same way that the police claim their shields and flak jackets are for protection.
I can't get beyond understanding "uncooperative" in this context meaning refusal to provide information which the police are not entilted to in the first place.
Still, you don't become a Legal Lord without kissing the arse of the system, do you?