Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Carols in Parliament Square 20th Dec 7pm

Public Carol Service
Click here for more information.

UPDATE: Radio 4's Today are running a which law would you like to repeal? competition. See ScaryDuck. I'm voting to repeal Sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which bans the right of free assembly within 1km radius of Blair' s offices.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful to Parliament Square at 7pm on Wednesday 20th December where there will be a spontaneous demonstration of festive cheer, joy and hope expressed through the medium of peaceful carol-singing.

We did it last year and it was ace. BBC report. Urban 75 report. My blog reports. Tim's report, Guido's report

Please note that although, as I said, this is a carol service, technically it also qualifies as an unauthorised demonstration which you can be arrested for under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act legislation . You see, you can't peaceably gather within 1km of Tony Blair's office and protest or voice dissent any more. He doesn't like it. Laws were passed to deal with it. Silly laws. Laws that people will also be protesting about on Wednesday 20th December from 6pm-7pm in a Lone Mass 100% Legal Demonstration ( today's the last day for handing your forms in to the police, chaps, by the way)
Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 is a legislative sledgehammer to crack a nut - in this case, to remove the long-resident peace protester Brian Haw from outside Parliament and to control dissent. Section 132 - Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament: Demonstrating without authorisation in designated area:(1) Any person who-(a) organises a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or(b) takes part in a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or(c) carries on a demonstration by himself in a public place in the designated area,is guilty of an offence if, when the demonstration starts, authorisation for the demonstration has not been given under section 134(2). A formal warning usually precedes any action, but the Police may arrest any person committing an offence under Section 132 of the Act and if found guilty that individual may be liable to a fine of up to £2500 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 51 weeks.

You are all invited. And please do pass this on. The police are invited too. They were very shy last year. This year I will bring some mince pies to see if I can tempt them out of the shadows and encourage them to join in.

We will be collecting money by passing a bucket round to raise cash for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children. ( Perhaps the Police Benevolent Fund too?)

Information here .


Anonymous IainC said...

I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the precedent-setting success of the Fairford Coach Action in having the (police's interpretation of) the law challenged: see

in the conclusions of which was upheld, in particular, Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to Freedom of Assembly and Association.

After this judgement it may be difficult for the police to (continue to) interpret the law on assembly for political purposes in the way they have recently done, for example in relation to the proximity to Parliament of demonstrations against Iraq. Maybe they'll have to start singing from a different hymn sheet ...


December 15, 2006 4:20 pm  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Wishing you peace and all things good this holiday season.

December 15, 2006 7:10 pm  
Blogger Tim said...

Ah, but you haven't read the Explanatory Memorandum:

6. European Convention on Human Rights
6.1 Not applicable.

How can anybody possibly argue with such a bold (and brief) assertion?

December 16, 2006 1:08 am  
Anonymous Rohen said...

I'm really surprised the Queen gave her assent. Can she not stop such draconian laws? or will it be her head on the chopping block if she does?

December 18, 2006 4:04 pm  

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