ARTICLE 19 welcomes a High Court ruling that the use of section 14 of the Public Order Act to close down Extinction Rebellion protests in London was unlawful.
In October 2019, the Metropolitan police used section 14 to ban all Extinction Rebellion protests in the capital – the first time that such a ban has been applied across the whole of London.
Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion had argued that the Extinction Rebellion was a decentralised movement and that Section 14 should not have been used to impose a blanket ban on all carried out in its name. They also argued that the Metropolitan police’s use of Section 14 had overstepped the mark by attempting to ban future protests.
Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled that the ban was unlawful because the act does not cover “separate assemblies” and therefore the Metropolitan police had no power to impose the ban.
Executive Director Thomas Hughes said:
“This is an important ruling that will help to protect the right to protest in the UK. While the authorities have a duty to maintain public order, they also have a duty to uphold the right to protest, which is a fundamental right in a democracy.
“In some circumstances, restricting protests might be acceptable but this ban overstepped the mark. Section 14 of the Public Order Act should never have been used to close down separate protests across London, and we welcome the Court’s ruling today.”
For more information, contact Pam Cowburn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07749 785 932