Climate Camp begins legal battleTagged as: g20
Climate Camp commence legal battle
Climate Campers have launched an action against the Metropolitan Police to challenge the policing of the G20 Climate Camp in the City protest on 1st April, instigating the start of a David and Goliath legal battle. The specific concerns raised about the decisions and actions taken by the police are:
- The authorisation to deploy force and in particular the use of batons and shields to strike and drive back Climate Campers and others from 7.00 p.m. onwards
- The lack of clear instructions to officers to ensure force would only be used when legally permitted
- The ‘kettling' of the Camp from approximately 7.00 p.m. on no proper legal basis
- The fact that there was no appropriate way for people to leave the ‘kettle' during the following four and a half hours
- The decision to disperse the Camp under s14 of the Public Order Act
The litigants include Chris Abbot, who gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 12th May in relation to the G20 policing, and was at the Climate Camp with his partner Louise Broadbent whose account of her experience in the Climate Camp Legal Team's report available at: http://climatecamp.org.uk/node/563.
A representative of the Climate Camp, Jane Morley, commented: "Like so many others, we have all too often experienced aggressive, heavy-handed, and often down-right violent policing. The Camp in the City was an opportunity to express and exchange views about the most serious threat our planet faces and to point to the folly of a market based approach to solving it. What happened shows the extreme measures to which those in power will resort in their attempts to suppress this message. The police stripped those present of their right to protest freely for several hours and violently drove us away. This won't stop us, we'll be back in the Summer, and if the police grossly abuse their powers again, we will call them to account both in the courts and publicly."
Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Select Committee report on the G20 Policing (published 29 June) stresses the supposed presence of 'untrained' and 'inexperienced' officers at the G20 protests, blaming them for any inappropriate policing. Essentially, Senior Officers blaming their Juniors for strategic decisions.
Nonethteless, the Metropolitan Police have responded to the Home Affairs Select Committee report by casting aside the few, limited criticisms in the Select Committee report, instead claiming the operation a 'success', despite the widespread use of police violence and the resultant death of Ian Tomlinson.
The Met also took the opportunity to try and blame protest groups for the Police Force's consistent strategy of breaking dialogue. Commission Chris Allison: "For that small percentage of groups with whom we have not had that constructive dialogue, I ask them to break the cycle and come and talk to us."
The Select Committee report itself similarly proposes that it is lack of communication - and not police violence - which was most problematic during the G20 protest. However, the report goes further, explaining why non-hierarchical social movements in particular are targetted by the police: "It is no coincidence that those protests which lacked a clear hierarchical structure and did not fully communicate their intentions to the police beforehand were those which experienced the greatest use of force by police."
This is a second Judicial Review being brought by the Climate Camp. The blanket use of section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to search everyone attending last Summer's Climate Camp at Kingsnorth, Kent is being challenged by Dave Morris (a former McLibel litigant) and T and E (11 year old twins who attended the Camp) and is expected to conclude later this year.
Details of legal challenge and reports in response to the policing of the G20 protests