The protection of freedoms of expression and assembly are at the heart of Bindmans’ ethos in the same way that they are central to the European Convention of Human Rights.
We are acknowledged as among the leading lawyers in defending political activists, protesters and campaigners who are targeted by the police and prosecutors. We have an unrivalled wealth of experience in representing public interest protesters who have deployed an array of tactics, on a spectrum of progressive issues, often over a long period of time.
We have represented campaigners on issues as diverse as racial equality, animal rights, peace, the environment, anti-austerity and social justice.
For example, we represented anti-racism campaigners in the 1970’s, trade unionists in industrial action in the 1980’s, anti-roads protesters in the 1990’s, anti-war activists in the 2000’s and anti-austerity cuts protesters in the 2010’s.
We have also represented those involved in:
- Marches and assemblies (trade union and anti-war marches)
- Vigils (outside the South African embassy during apartheid years and outside Parliament against the wars in the Middle East)
- Camps (Greenham Common, Climate Camps)
- Direct action (those engaged in damaging genetically modified crops, or weapons to be used in genocide or war crimes)
- Personal expression (nudity)
- Picketing or equivalent protests at the workplace (industrial action or at businesses associated with vivisection)
We represent campaigners engaged in one-off actions or long-running campaigns, who protest in large groups or as individuals – from the late Brian Haw and his 10-year individual vigil outside Parliament, to representing over 100 UK Uncut protesters arrested for demonstrating at Fortnum & Mason in 2011. Our right to protest solicitors represent those who wish to plead guilty, to those who put forward defences of justification and are often acquitted (for example Phil Pritchard and Toby Olditch, acquitted at Bristol Crown Court having sought to immobilise aircraft due to take-off the next day to drop bombs in Iraq before the outbreak of the Gulf War).
We represent clients at all levels of the criminal justice system – from the police station to the Supreme Court, and in the European Court of Human Rights.
We have represented many people arrested for serious public order offences during civil disorder – such as the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham in 1985 (including successfully challenging Winston Silcott’s conviction for the murder of PC Blakelock), poll tax demonstrations in 1990, the student and anti-cuts protests of 2010, through to the summer riots of 2011.
We work closely with others involved in these campaigns, protests and prosecutions – campaigners for the right to protest itself, human rights organisations, those providing legal, practical and political support as well as other defence lawyers and politicians.
We are able to assist on issues linked to protest. We provide advice in advance on the risks of committing criminal offences, arrests and prosecution. We can advise on the legal ‘fall out’ from campaigns – defending civil injunction proceedings (for example Occupy, Democracy Village) and damages claims (for instance the Department of Transport’s ill-fated multi-million-pound claim against Twyford Down anti-roads protesters).
We can also provide private briefings to activists and assist with public statements to the media on linked legal issues.
We advise and represent clients on pro-active litigation they might deploy. Occasionally we have begun, on behalf of clients, private prosecutions – against security guards who have assaulted protesters or those involved in animal cruelty at circuses.
We have been successful in identifying and challenging the State’s misuse of its powers. This has included identifying the wrongful deployment of undercover police officers (leading to the quashing of ten’s of convictions by the Court of Appeal, in the case of environmentalists infiltrated by undercover police officers) and we currently represent about 100 ‘core participants,’ those most directly affected by undercover policing, in the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing since 1968.
And it has led us to work closely with colleagues in other departments who bring judicial review proceedings where the State has misapplied the law (for instance the successful challenges brought by Laporte and Others of the decision to ‘kettle’ those protesting at RAF Fairford against the impending Gulf War, and the mass unlawful G20 arrests at Earl Street) and civil cases against the police and in upholding the freedom of written or published expression, through our media, privacy and libel department.
Our team can also advise pre-emptively, or after the event, on challenges to unlawful arrests, police decisions to take DNA, fingerprints or photos, decisions to retain or disclose sensitive personal information to third parties on criminal records checks for employers, or visa applications.
All of our right to protest team defend in public order/protest cases, as we consider this aspect of our practice to be central to the team’s ethos and core values.