gus | 10.05.2004 21:27 | London
Staff and agencies
Monday May 10, 2004
An anti-war protester who has been camped outside the Houses of Parliament for
nearly three years was arrested today and his vast protest display dismantled.
Brian Haw, 55, was arrested at around midnight on suspicion of obstruction and
assaulting a police officer after refusing to move, police said.
He had refused to leave the area after being asked to do so by police
investigating a security alert posed by a car parked nearby. Officers later
spoke to the owners of the car and the security alert passed.
Today the protester was being held at Charing Cross police station in London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police dealing with an abandoned vehicle at the
Houses of Parliament just before midnight arrested a man for obstruction and
assault on a police officer. The man had refused to move from the area when
asked to do so for his own safety."
The spokesman refused to confirm the name of the arrested protester but it was
understood to be Mr Haw.
Mr Haw, from Redditch, Worcestershire, has previously claimed that attempts to
force him to end his anti-war vigil have been politically motivated.
However, a police source insisted that his placards, including one which says
"stop killing my kids", were taken away for "safekeeping" until the matter was
The source said: "The Met respects his right to protest and it is not an attempt
to stop him protesting. Once this matter has been concluded, he is free to
return if he wishes to."
One of Mr Haw's supporters, Emma Sangster, said: "After his arrest, the suspect
car was almost immediately identified to be posing no threat and the security
"Subsequent to his arrest, and despite there being no longer any current
security concerns, the remaining officers removed all of Mr Haw's possessions
and protest placards from the site."
She claimed they had "even commandeered a passing WH Smith news lorry to effect
Mr Haw, who is married and the father of seven children, first settled down in
Parliament Square in June 2001 initially calling for an end to sanctions
against Iraq and then later demonstrating about the war.
In October last year, Westminster Council failed in an attempt to evict him
after a high court judge, Mr Justice Gray, refused to grant an injunction
restraining him from obstructing the pavements with his placards.
In March, Mr Haw, who sleeps on the pavement under a plastic sheet, resisted
attempts by police to force him to scale down his protest due to fears
terrorists could plant bombs under his placards.
At the time, he said: "This is a terrorism-free zone. I don't allow terrorism
here. I'm here to stop all terrorism whether it's small backpacks in Madrid or
big bombs from a B52."
Mr Haw's solicitor, Michael Schwarz, said: "Brian Haw is peacefully campaigning
on perhaps the most significant issue of the day at a place which is supposed
to be the very heart of our democracy.
"It is difficult to think of a more compelling example of the deployment of the
rights to protest."