A protester and a businessman who were detained for more than seven hours without food, water or access to toilets at the Mayday protests in 2001 have lost their claim for damages against the Metropolitan Police. They intend to appeal against the judgement.
On 23 March 2005 Mr Justice Tugendhat deemed that the police tactic of surrounding and holding 3,000 protesters in Oxford Circus was reasonable in order to prevent violence and damage to property. Protesters now fear that the judgement will encourage the police to use the method in future, specifically at the G8 Summit in Scotland this July.
The case was brought by Lois Austin and Geoffrey Saxby. Protester Lois Austin, 35, was prevented from leaving Oxford Circus to collect her child from a crèche despite telling police that her daughter was lactase deficient and needed to be breastfed. Geoffrey Saxby, 48, happened to get caught up in the demonstration while collecting money on behalf of his employer. The pair claimed that the police’s actions were unlawful and breached their human rights. One hundred and fifty other claims for damages depended on this test case.
Austin said: ‘This is a disappointing judgement for people who protest. It criminalises protesters when the real criminals are the people who prosecute illegal wars, ensure that millions of people are condemned to poverty, and promote environmental destruction. We’re very worried that this will enable the police to further impede protest, and it comes at a time when the state is increasing its powers and attacking civil liberties.’
The pair’s solicitor, Louise Christian, believes that the judge was wrong in law to say that everyone in the area of Oxford Circus could be reasonably suspected of violence because of a small violent minority. She pointed out that the judge had conceded that the protesters were effectively imprisoned, but had decided that this was justified on the particular facts of the case.
‘The police are looking at this as a test case on whether they can detain people in other circumstances,’ Christian said. ‘Hopefully the court of appeal will take a different approach, otherwise the problem will be that the police will see this as a green light to use this tactic again.’
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement saying that they ‘were duty bound to protect public safety through implementing this containment in Oxford Circus. For us not to take this action would have run a very real risk of serious injury to the public and our staff, looting and widespread criminal damage’.
In his ruling the judge said: ‘It is obvious from the videos of the three previous English demonstrations that on May Day 2001 there was a real risk of serious injury and even death, as well as damage to property, if the police did not control the crowd’. He agreed with the police that protesters’ literature, which used phrases like ‘sale of the century’ and ‘smash and grab’, ‘could reasonably be understood as incitement to looting and violence, and it was hard to understand it in any other way’.
The judgement will have serious implications for the policing of future demonstrations, providing a precedent for the police to cite. Before the case was brought, the police had no clear legal authority to detain protesters in such a fashion.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry