Arrests in London on 28th April - Breach of the Peace etc."
High Court Queen's Bench Division - Divisional Court - Richards LJ and
Openshaw J - has given judgment in four linked claims for judicial
review concerning the lawfulness of the policing of events at the time
of and immediately prior to the Royal Wedding - R (Hicks and others) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and other cases  EWHC 1947 (Admin).
A central issue was whether the defendant Commissioner of Police operated a policy, or practice on the ground, of equating intention to
protest with intention to cause unlawful disruption and adopted an
impermissibly low threshold of tolerance for public protest, resulting
in the unlawful arrest of persons who were viewed by his officers as
being likely to express anti-monarchist views. The individual claims
raised numerous further issues concerning the lawfulness of the actions
taken by the Police. Those issues engage the law relating
to breach of the peace, general principles of public law, specific
statutory powers and several articles of the European Convention on
The judgment is very long - exceptional
even by modern standards -extending to 270 paragraphs. Its length is
explained both by the number of issues
raised and also, and very importantly, by the fact that an assessment of
the lawfulness of the numerous individual arrests and searches in issue
requires detailed consideration of the particular factual circumstances
The court referred to the four claims as "the
Hicks claim", "the M claim", "the Pearce claim" and "the Middleton
claim" and deals with them in that order. Every claim was dismissed by the court.
At para. 152 the judgment states - ".... we find nothing in the various
strands of the claimants' case, whether taken individually or
cumulatively, to make good the contention that the policing of the Royal
Wedding involved an unlawful policy or practice, with an impermissibly
low threshold of tolerance for public protest."
In an article in The Guardian 19th July, Hannah Eiseman-Renyard comments - "If we had won the case the result could have helped stop the
increasing de facto criminalisation of protest. As it stands, the judges
chose to believe all these arrests and riot police raids on people's
homes were lawful and proportionate responses to the "threat" posed. The
high court's decision to dismiss all four judicial reviews gives tacit
approval for the police to use these oppressive tactics time and time
again at the Olympics and beyond. Apparently the smooth running of state
pageantry is more important than citizens' rights to free speech and
I am sorely disappointed by the result and I am
worried for the future. The behaviour of the police over the royal
wedding was draconian, clumsy, and seemed aimed at harassing those
viewed as subversive. We are looking into appealing the decision ..." (Extract from 'Arrest without crime - the truth of a royal wedding overreaction').