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Parliament Square


Julian Todd made a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office, asking for statistics relating to authorisations for, an arrests resulting from protests in Parliament Square. Here is the request and response.


Check out this blog for news and upcoming screenings of SOCPA the movie (also includes embedded YouTube video of preview).


The first person to be convicted of organising an "unauthorised" demonstration within 1km of Parliament Square was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment yesterday for refusing to pay his fines. Milan Rai was arrested with Maya Evans after naming the dead in Iraq opposite Downing Street without permission from the police.

Parliament Square was recently fenced off and there has been a call for people to get down there at 1pm this Sunday to witness what is happening (but not to protest about it of course because that would be illegal wouldn't it?). Meet beteen Lambeth Bridge and the House of Lords (but don't blame me if nobody else responds to the call).


The laws which restrict the right to demonstrate in Parliament Square need to be changed, Gordon Brown has said.


The London Assembly today backed a motion calling for the withdrawal of parts of the Serious Organised Crime and Policing Act (2005) because it hampers freedom of speech.


There is a regeneration plan for Parliament Square - see the Mayor of London's Parliament Square page.


At 2.14pm on Friday, Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Dormer moved to read the Public Demonstrations (Repeals) Bill [HL] for a second time. She introduced the bill as follows:

The Bill's purpose is to delete those clauses in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which condition demonstration. Freedom to demonstrate outside Parliament is one of the most important freedoms of expression that Britain has. This Government changed that fundamental freedom to a conditional one. My Bill would simply return the law to the 2005 position when there were many adequate safeguards against violent or disruptive protests but people were not frightened to demonstrate. People are now afraid that they will get a criminal record for simply holding a placard or even wearing a T-shirt with a slogan on it anywhere near Parliament.

Later on in her address she recounted the following story which would be funny if it was not so serious:

Last week at the Mark Wallinger exhibition, a young woman told me that she had stood outside Downing Street wearing a T-shirt saying, "Rogue state Britain". The policeman on duty told her, "You can't wear that here, it is a demonstration". She replied, "I am advertising an art show at the Tate". He said, "Oh, that's fine then".

You can read her full address in Hansard.


A group of Liberal Democrat peers are to protest outside Parliament before entering the building to debate a bill to repeal parts of SOCPA.


Brian Haw has won his latest court case. District Judge Quentin Purdy said he had not breached conditions imposed on him because they were unclear and also they were not legitimate because they should have been ordered by the Commissioner, rather than an officer from a lower rank.


Mark Wallinger has recreated peace campaigner Brian Haw's Parliament Square protest for a dramatic new installation at Tate Britain. Running along the full length of the Duveen Galleries, State Britain consists of a meticulous reconstruction of over 600 weather-beaten banners, photographs, peace flags and messages from well-wishers that have been amassed by Haw over the past five years.

The PledgeBank pledge to "form part of a human chain around the Westminster no protest zone but only if 6,000 people will join in" has now closed. The deadline was originally May 1st 2006 but the pledge creator asked to extend the deadline to January 15th 2007. I initially objected but agreed to withdraw my objection, though I was not inspired to continue promoting it. I mention it now only in order to lay it to rest. Only 1487 people had signed the pledge by the extended deadline.


Here is the first of three linked Indymedia reports by rikki on Brian's court case in which he is facing criminal charges arising earlier in the year for alleged breach of SOCPA conditions on his demo. Interesting stuff.


Activists challenge ruling on protests near parliament.


The Space Hijackers have been helping to patrol the border of the SOCPA zone.


Photojournalist Marc Valle was hospitalised on Oct 9th following an encounter with the Met while he was documenting the Oct 9th Sack Parliament protest. He has been putting together a Media Archive of reports and articles related to the protest.


Here are some reflections on last weekend's unauthorised Sack Parliament protest. Mark Thomas was there for a while during his record breaking effort to hold 21 authorised demonstrations in the SOCPA zone in a single day, which he wrote about for the Guardian in So many causes, so little time.


I went to Parliament Square on Sunday to take some flyers for people at the regular Sunday picnic and was surprised to find the Square crowded with police and demonstrators. There were two separate authorised demos taking place in relation to the volatile situation that has been brewing in Lebanon. Rikki was once again on the spot and has filed a report on Indymedia.


Rikki got some great footage of Steve being arrested outside Downing Street on Sunday - see this Indymedia posting.


In protest against the police action of Tuesday 23 May, supporters of Brian Haw will be gathering in Parliament Square this morning. The gathering will coincide with the arrival of Tony Blair to Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.


Police have removed placards from peace activist Brian Haw at the scene of his five-year vigil outside Parliament.


Brian has not been evicted from Parliament Square yet, despite yesterday's ruling. For latest updates check this Indymedia page.


Peace activist Brian Haw may have to end his five-year vigil outside Parliament as the government has won an appeal against an earlier legal ruling.


Here is my report the anti-SOCPA/Reclaim St George Weekend.

A while back I signed a pledge at PledgeBank to "form part of a human chain around the Westminster no protest zone but only if 6,000 other people will join in". The deadline was May 1st and I (along with many others) assumed that if the target was met then the action would occur on that day. As of today 958 people have signed up. It turns out that the pledge creator never intended for the action to occur on May 1st and, admiting that the target would not be reached, he proposed extending the deadline. I was personally opposed to extending the deadline but I was the only one who spoke up, and not wanting to block it I agreed to withdraw my objection. The deadline has been extended now to 2007-01-15 and if anyone wants to sign the pledge they can do so here, but I will not be mentioning it again.

There is going to be a Beating the Bounds event on May Day, assembling at noon in Trafalgar Square for a circumnavigation of the protest exclusion zone.

For anyone interested in taking action to oppose section 132 of SOCPA I advise checking out the People in Common website and getting down to Parliament Square as often as possible - particulary on Sundays at 1pm for the regular picnic/meeting.


Campaigner faces jail for anti-war tea party outside Parliament.


The Home Office were today appealing the decision taken in the High Court last July, that Brian Haw is exempt from the measures in SOCPA which ban unauthorised protest near Parliament. No decision has yet been made but if they win the appeal Brian may be evicted.

On Saturday evening I spoke to Brian before taking part in a foolish ritual in Parliament Square - see report by The Hairy Jedi.

I wasn't there on Sunday for the unauthorised "naming the dead ceremony" but apparently it went well. Due to a high turnout and media presence the police kept a low profile and did not attempt to enforce the relevent provision of SOCPA.


Milan Rai is the first person to be charged as organiser in contravention of the SOCPA regulations regading protests in the exclusion zone. Rikki was at Bow Street magistrates court on Friday and filed this report.


With the passage of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act in 2005 an exclusion zone centred on the Houses of Parliament came into effect. What this means is that anyone "protesting" within this zone is liable to arrest unless they are doing so as part of an "official" protest. Basically the organiser of the protest has to inform the police six days in advance with details as to time, location, number of people etc. As I understand it the police can not refuse permission but they can impose any conditions they like and if these are not met then participants/organiser again become liable to arrest.

The new law is being creatively tested on an ongoing basis and a number of arrests have been made. If I put on a T-Shirt that says "No War" and go for a walk along the South Bank it seems I could be arrested under SOCPA for protesting in the zone. Clearly that is unlikely to happen, in which case the whole law ought to be invalid on the basis that it is being applied arbitrarily.

The law was designed to evict Brian Haw from Parliament Square where he has been protesting the invasion of Iraq. Much to the annoyance of the Blair administration it turns out that Brian is exempt from the legislation due to the fact that that his continuous protest began before the law was passed. The law specifically bans the use of loudspeakers in the zone but during October Critical Mass over 1000 cyclists occupied Parliament Square and operated a large soundsystem right outside the Houses of Parliament - the police made no attempt to arrest anyone.

To find out more check out: Ian Gregory 2010