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Containment of pro-Palestinian demonstrators by Police was lawful

This case related to a pro-Palestinian demonstration that took place close to a seminar commemorating 60 years of British diplomatic relations with Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister was scheduled to be in attendance at the seminar.

The applicant was one of the demonstrators. The Police decided only to allow the demonstrators to assemble and protest in an enclosed area referred to as a ‘protest pen’. Police encouraged the protestors to enter the pen if they wanted to continue their demonstration. Police threatened to arrest demonstrators if they didn’t enter the pen but it was held that the arrangement to enter the pen was essentially voluntary in nature. The applicant was held in the pen for 75 minutes.

He took legal action against police on the grounds of false imprisonment and assault at common law, and under Articles 5, 10 and 11 of the European Convention.

The Court accepted that the police had apprehended a breach of the peace, and considered that they had reasonable grounds to do so. The Judge decided that the action was both necessary and proportionate, emphasising the fact that the police had opted for temporary containment rather than arrest, and that it was the only practical option to avoid the problems caused by different groups of demonstrators potentially taking action in different areas. Consequently, there was no false imprisonment and no breach of Article 5.

There were no breaches of Articles 10 and 11, as the applicant was not prevented from protesting; he was simply required to do it in a designated area.

For more discussion on the case please see here

Criminal Law