Saturday, 12 November 2011

EDL need to challenge the unlawful arrests in Westminster

Whilst I am no particular fan of EDL, it seems they are being used as the canary in the coal mine for the overt authoritarianism of the state police. How else are we supposed to interpret the arrest of 170 people who were doing nothing wrong, breaking no law and not in any way likely to break any law?

Whether or not you share the EDL's view of our nation, what cannot surely be doubted is that the members consider themselves patriots, and as such - and as evidenced by all their official statements on the matter - they were not in Westminster to cause trouble but to pay their respects to the nation's war dead. Although it is no doubt the case that a poppy-burning salafist would have provoked a reaction, there is not one shred of evidence that any of the arrested were doing anything wrong.

Consulting the Great Oracle (Wikipedia), I learn:
"In England and Wales, breach of the peace is not an offence, in the sense that it is not punishable either by a fine or imprisonment either at statute or common law and nor do proceedings for breach of the peace give rise to any conviction. In England and Wales, constables (or citizens) are permitted to arrest a person to "prevent a further breach of the peace" which allows for the police or the public to arrest a person before a breach of the peace has occurred. This is permitted when it is reasonable to believe should the person remain, that they would continue with their course of conduct and that a Breach of the Peace would occur."
This is very important. We were told, through the media, that the arrests took place "to prevent a breach of the peace" NOT a further breach of the peace. If words have meanings, it is clear that the only occasion that someone can be arrested to prevent a breach of the peace is if they are already committing or have already committed such a breach.

EDL have some thinking to do. My advice to them would be to pool their resources and get some proper legal advice and challenge the lawfulness of these arrests. They must be mindful of being manipulated as 'useful idiots'. They might also want to re-think who the real enemy is - the authoritarian state.

(P.S. According to that Wikipedia clip, citizens have the same power of arrest, so next time maybe EDL should arrest the cops on the same charge.)


Angry Exile said...

Agreed, Trooper T, but have a look at this from

"A breach of the peace is not in itself a criminal offence, but the police and any other person have a power of arrest where there are reasonable grounds for believing a breach of the peace is taking place or is imminent."

Nothing there about "a further breach" but since it's not an offence in either statute or common law where and how is it defined? I had no idea but it seems like something that can changed and reshaped to fit the needs of arresting officers providing they can retrospectively dream up something convincing to justify it.

Trooper Thompson said...

I think the definition is that which the words spell out. Where I think the police will struggle is in explaining what reasonable grounds they had for arresting 170 people. What was the nature of the breach of peace they claim to have prevented? An attack on the OLX people? Let them be forced to explain. Let them put one copper up who says sincerely that intelligence informed them that these seemingly inoffensive punters were about to transform into a violent mob, and let that be countered by any number of said punters, saying quite the opposite.