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02 December 2019

The High Court rules the first ban on Extinction Rebellion protest was also unlawful

3 mins

Following the case of Baroness Jenny Jones v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the High Court has today quashed the decision of the Metropolitan Police, made on 8th October, imposing a ban on any assembly linked to Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’, and ordering that they “must go to Trafalgar Square”. This effectively banned all protests in London linked to Extinction Rebellion, including future protests.

The Claimants who brought this challenge are Extinction Rebellion activists who were arrested for breaches of s.14 Public Order Act 1986 after the order was made by the police on 8th October 2019. They were arrested separately at various locations including Bank, Whitehall and Milbank. Two of the Claimants were charged, whilst the other three Claimants were released under investigation. Hundreds of other protesters were also arrested across London.

Following the High Court’s decision in the case of Baroness Jones that the s.14 order of 14th October banning the protests in London had been unlawful, the five Claimants brought a challenge against the Metropolitan Police’s order of the 8th October, on the grounds that it had also been unlawful for the same reasons.

Despite the ruling in Jones, the criminal cases against Extinction Rebellion protesters for s.14 breaches continued, and many were being required to travel to London Magistrates’ courts to enter pleas to their charges.

The Metropolitan Police Service conceded early that their order of the 8th October 2019 should also be quashed. A claim for Judicial Review was issued in the High Court by the Claimants on 27 November 2019. Today the High Court has sealed an order which quashes the order of the 8th October 2019. The order quashing the ban of 8th October was made by Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain who also dealt with the earlier case.

Jules Carey, (Partner and head of Actions against Police and State Team at Bindmans LLP) who acted on behalf of the Claimants said today:

Today’s High Court order quashing the second ban on Extinction Rebellion protests draws a line under what must have been one of the country’s most expensive but most inept policing of protest operations. Recognising the fundamental right to protest; the law permits the police to manage but not ban protests. The Metropolitan Police grossly exceeded their powers during the Extinction Rebellion protests this autumn, and in so doing dragged hundreds of people unnecessarily and unlawfully into the criminal justice system. The CPS and police should now be proactive in confirming that our client’s prosecutions are being dropped, that investigations against them are being discontinued and that their details are being removed from police databases.

The Metropolitan Police now face claims for false imprisonment from protesters who were unlawfully arrested for a breach of s.14.

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