Britain: Judgement marks a setback for civil liberties

“A sad and disappointing day for the right to protest.”

Press release

For immediate use

This morning, a verdict was given at the Royal Courts of Justice against the cases of two people detained in a police cordon on May Day 2001.

The judge ruled that the Metropolitan Police had the right to contain

demonstrators and others caught up in the police cordon, in order to prevent a breach of peace.

Up to 3,000 people were detained in Oxford Circus for seven hours with no food, water or toilet facilities. Lois Austin, one of the two who presented their case in court, was imprisoned in the cordon and was not allowed out of it to collect her daughter from nursery school.

Lois said: "This is a sad and disappointing day for the right to protest. The judgement marks a setback for civil liberties and in particular for the right to protest without suffering detention and police harassment. It criminalises peaceful protesters and will be seen as a green light for the police to take similar actions in the future".

For further comment and interviews contact Lois Austin on 07765 848 444

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March 2005