Saturday, December 09, 2006

Parliament Square SOCPA test case

Some of you may remember the various anti SOCPA protests to defend free speech that we have had this year and last year. The unlawful Carol Service, the Simulataneous Lone Mass Demonstrations...Now we have a test case with the irrespressible Brian Haw. Whatever your opinion is of Brian, I support his right, and the right of anyone else, to stand outside Parliament and peacefully protest against the Government of the day. It is quite outrgaeous that the great clunking fist of an unfair law was brought in to crush this man and his protest against foreign policy. So here's the update....

PRESS RELEASE - Brian Haw faces jail sentence for failing to comply with controversial new anti-protest law
Monday 11th to Wednesday 13 December, Marylebone Road Magistrates' Court
9.30am gathering of support, 10am trial

Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor, is on trial next week in the latest in a series of cases relating to the controversial ban on unauthorised demonstrations near Parliament under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA). Mr Haw has been continuing his vigil for peace and justice in Iraq and elsewhere for over five and a half years.
His display of placards, banners andother items opposite Parliament is testament to the suffering and injustice caused in other countries as a result of the UK's foreign policy.

Mr Haw is charged under Section 134 of SOCPA with failing to comply with the conditions that the police imposed on his protest in May this year.[A]

The trial will be the first test in court of the legality and reasonableness of the conditions (restrictions) that can be applied to aprotest under SOCPA. One of the arguments put forward will be that thec onditions are incompatible with freedom of expression and association,as enshrined in the Human Rights Act. [B]

Among the range of conditions placed on Mr Haw's protest by the police is one relating to the size of his display. Shortly after this condition the night of 23 May in which they seized most of the display to reduce it to a fraction of what it previously. [C]

Mr Haw's defence team include Ian MacDonald QC of Garden Court Chambers who has a reputation as one of the most progressive lawyers in the country, taking on criminal, immigration and race relations cases. In2004 he publicly opposed the government's indefinite detention of terror suspects. [D]

The consequences of this case for Mr Haw could be very serious - if convicted, he faces up to 51 weeks in prison or a substantial fine. Mr Haw said, "This case is about love, peace and justice for all. It is about humanity, decency, democracy versus genocide, torture, diabolical cruelty and mindless greed. Its an age-old battle for truth and sweet reason to prevail."


The court will start at 10am. There will be a demonstration of support outside from 9.30am. Marylebone Road Magistrates' Court is at 181 Marylebone Road, London,NW1 5QJ. Nearest tubes: Edgware Road, Baker Street. The court is nearMarylebone mainline station.
Contact Emma Sangster, supporter of Brian Haw, on 07791 486484 or LauraHiggs at Bindmans and Partners, 020 7833

A. After the Court of Appeal hearing on 8th May, Brian Haw lost his exemption from the ban on unauthorised protest in the 'designated area'around Parliament under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
(Judges rule against peace vigil, BBC, 8 May 2006 )

B. Under Section 134 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005,the police can impose conditions on a demonstration to control it. Theseconditions can be extremely wide ranging, covering anything from theplace and time where the demonstration may take place, how long it cango on for, how many people can take part, the number and size of banners or placards used and the maximum permissible noise levels.

C. Police seize Parliament Square protester's placards, The Guardian,Tuesday May 23, 2006

D. Garden Court Chambers

Parliament Square website for latest updates

UPDATE: 11-13 December 2006: Brian was on trial for failing to comply with SOCPA conditions from. See here for more. Read reports day 1, day 2 day 3The trial has been adjourned until 22 January 2006 at City of Westminster Magistrates Court while the judge considers the arguments that Brian's lawyers put forward that there is no case to answer.Meanwhile his legal team are pursuing both a judicial review of the conditions and a petition to the House of Lords for an appeal of the Court of Appeal 8 May decision

I was too ill with bronchitis to make it: please see carol service and 100% legal demo or follow website for next steps


Blogger foo said...

Four legs good. Two legs better.

Or, perhaps:

Human Rights good. No Human Rights better.

December 09, 2006 2:14 pm  
Blogger jailhouselawyer said...

I fail to see how the lone protest comes anywhere near serious organised crime. On the other hand, the murderers of Thomas ap Rhys Pryce were part of the Kensal Green Tribe, that is, an organised crime gang, who were responsible for 40 robberies in one month, and preyed on 150 victims over a seven month period. It is possible, that if the police had concentrated on real organised crime Thomas ap Rhys Price might be alive today. This is not organised crime, it is organised stupidity by the government. There is no room in a democracy for a political police force. This arrest is a police farce.

December 09, 2006 8:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SOCPA is just the overall name of the act and does not define every section within in. Haw has clearly broken the law as set out in the act.

The "why don't you catch real criminals" arguement is the vapid self righteous argument of many an individual who considers their particular law breaking to be acceptable, be it drug taking, speeding or making parliament square into one giant squat.

December 11, 2006 4:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The "why don't you catch real criminals" arguement is the vapid self righteous argument of many an individual who considers their particular law breaking to be acceptable, be it drug taking, speeding or making parliament square into one giant squat."

Go visit "jailhouselawyer" at his blog. I think you will find his 'particular law breaking' to be a little more serious than that......

And yes. Haw has broken the law, and should be removed.

December 12, 2006 1:14 pm  

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