Thursday 26 November 2009

Climate Camp gets its day in court

In April, following the furore over the policing of the G20 protests, Next Left posed the question: Did the police break the law at Bishopsgate?

We are delighted to report that this question will now have its day in court. Climate Camp have succeeded in the first stage of their legal challenge to the Met over policing of the demonstration at Bishopsgate on April 1.

According to the press release from Bindmans, the law firm representing Climate Camp:

'Protestors who were ‘kettled’ and beaten during the Fossil Fool’s day protest outside the Climate Exchange on 1st April 2009 have won the first round of a battle to hold the senior Metropolitan Police officers involved accountable. Granting permission for their judicial review to proceed to a full hearing, Administrative Court Lead Judge Sir Andrew Collins commented that the claim concerned, “issues that can properly be regarded as suitable for the Administrative Court”, including the decision to deploy force which was made minutes after officers had noted a “party like atmosphere” at the demonstration.'

Climate Camp is challenging the legality of a wide range of police actions at Bishopsgate, including the use of kettling and the inappropriate use of force. The key issues are:

'(1) the decision to use ‘containment’ to impose a ‘kettle’ around the Climate Camp between 7.00 p.m. and around 11.30 p.m. on 1 April 2009, purportedly under common law powers to prevent a breach of the peace;

(2) the failure to make appropriate, timely release arrangements whilst the ‘kettle’ was in place;

(3) the prevention of would-be protestors from joining the Climate Camp because of the ‘kettle’;

(4) the decision/s to deploy force (including the use of batons, shields and striking with open palms, fists and boots) against those who were ‘kettled’;

(5) the failure to give lawful and adequate guidance and instructions and orders to officers regarding the use of force against those who were ‘kettled’; and

(6) the decision to give directions / impose conditions, purportedly under section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986, to disperse those taking part in the Climate Camp protest.'

The Bindmans press release also helps give a sense of the sometimes brutal reality resulting from these decisions:

'The judicial review is brought by three representative claimants. Chris Abbott, a researcher and academic who was punched in the face when Police Officers suddenly surged forward, Hannah McClure, a Masters’ student who mentors foster children, who was pushed over by an officer who then stood on her stomach, and Josh Moos, a Plane Stupid campaigner, who was knocked to the ground as a baton-wielding officer vaulted over him. Mr Abbott’s complaint has been dismissed by the Metropolitan Police on the basis that any officers who may have been involved cannot be identified.'

I am sure that Climate Camp will be grateful for any contributions we can make to cover their legal costs. Let's give generously.

(A very grateful hat tip to John Halford at Bindmans for supplying me with full information on the content of Climate Camp's legal challenge.)

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