London police ban on Extinction Rebellion was unlawful, court finds

(Climate Change News, 6 Nov 2019) Lawyers for the protest group say those arrested illegally could claim thousands in compensation.

The UK’s High Court overturned a city-wide protest ban against Extinction Rebellion protests on Wednesday, rendering illegal arrests that took place under it.

Lord justice James Dingemans and justice Martin Chamberlain said the Met had used powers beyond the reach of the law, Section 14 of the 1986 public order act, which can only apply to single assemblies.

The judges ruled that the movement’s uprising, which brought much of central London to a standstill, constituted multiple, physical assemblies despite being organised under the umbrella of one movement.

Imposed after a week of disruptions in London, the ban instructed “any assembly to linked to Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ (publicised as being from 7th October to 19th October at 1800 hours) [to] cease their protests within London by 2100 hours 14 October”.

A string of public figures sympathising with the movement had requested the judicial review of the ban, which abruptly rendered Extinction Rebellion’s eight day occupation of Trafalgar Square illegal. These included Green peer Jenny Jones, Labour MPs David Drew and Clive Lewis, Green MEP Eleanor Chowns, Labour activist Adam Alnutt, Green MP Caroline Lucas and environmental journalist George Monbiot.

“We’re delighted with today’s result,” Extinction Rebellion lawyer Tobias Garnett told reporters outside the court. “It indicates our belief that the police’s blanket-ban was unprecedented and now unlawful on our right to protest. It’s a victory for those who want to draw the government’s attention to what the scientists have been telling us for decades, which is: that the planet is warming, that we’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, that we are responsible and we have a very short time to do something about it.”

“Rather than criminalising Extinction Rebellion’s activists, we call on the government to tell the truth and act now on this ecological emergency,” Garnett said.

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Climate Change News, 6 Nov 2019: London police ban on Extinction Rebellion was unlawful, court finds