The Crown Court cleared three activists of the charges of "obstructing the police" on Friday.
The Inner London Crown Court ruled that police surveillance of a public political meeting had not been proved to be lawful and that the police had failed to provide any evidence that they were pursuing a "legitimate aim". The three activists were arrested at a meeting called by London NoBorders in June 2008 when they protested against the surveillance of the meeting by "Forward Intelligence Team" - Report.
The aim of the public meeting, which took place in a community centre in Southwark, London, was to discuss a demonstration which later took place at the UK Border Agency in Croydon in July 2008. The Metropolitan Police turned up at both public meetings in June 2008, taking photos and filming everybody who attended the meeting.
In a press release, London NoBorders stated, that "The fact that the police could not show that their surveillance was authorised in any way is worrying and shows that the Forward Intelligence Team appears to work outside the law. The purpose of the police presence was clearly to intimidate and keep people from organising around political issues. It also shows that it is important for the future to continue to challenge the Forward Intelligence Team wherever they turn up."
During the trial one witness involved in London NoBorders, who had been followed by police armed with cameras around the area before the meeting, was asked by the prosecution: "You're exactly the sort of person the state ought to know about, aren't you?". The prosecution also asked the witness, who stated that he felt intimidated by the police presence: "Why don't you stay at home when you are concerned about being filmed?"
London NoBorders press release: http://london.noborders.org.uk/node/369
Fitwatch press release: http://fitwatch.org.uk/2010/07/police-fail-to-prove-legality-of-police-surveillance.html