|[Home] [Databases] [World Law] [Multidatabase Search] [Help] [Feedback]|
England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> Wright v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis  EWHC 2739 (QB) (11 September 2013)
Cite as:  EWHC 2739 (QB)
[New search] [Context] [View without highlighting] [Printable PDF version] [Help]
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| JOSEPH WRIGHT
|- and -
|COMMISSIONER OF POLICE FOR THE
George Thomas (instructed by Weightmans LLP) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 24th & 25th July 2013
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Jay:
The Events of 30th March 2011
"If protests are arranged during the Presidential visit there [sic] are more likely to be either at Chatham House for the conference on 60 years of Anglo-Israeli diplomacy or … . Neither the PSC not the StWC has been significantly active against events attended by prominent Israelis in recent months nor have they indicated a willingness to protest at this event. Activists from both groups are able to respond quickly to call-outs and should they decide to protest can mobilise a group of vociferous but generally law-abiding demonstrators. Further Israeli action in Gaza will increase the likelihood of these groups conducting anti-Israeli protests that may find the presence of Shimon Peres a target of opportunity. "
"O: do you mind going into the pen?
C: who are you [the officer was in plain clothes] … err, for what reason?
O: because we want to make sure that there's you know, safety for everybody. We've got a lot of traffic here, it's the middle of the morning.
C: I'll be on the pavement.
O: but do you mind going in there, though?
C: I would rather not because I have a feeling he's coming this way so I want to make sure he can see there's a protest, do you know what I mean. So, I don't want to cause any disruption
O: fellers, can you go into the pen, please, that is what it's there for, OK. You are not going to cause any disruption but you can go into the pen.
C: but for what reason?
O: for the reason what I don't want any breach of the peace, we've got a lot of traffic here and, as you know, we've a lot of important people wanting to come around the place. So if you can go in there
C: Shimon Peres is coming this way [shouting]
O: In the pen, please mate, thank you very much. And this is to prevent you causing a potential breach of the peace, OK. In the pen. Go into the pen … he's not because that's where you are supposed to be. Can you stop it, that you very much … where to demonstrate, thank you very much
Protester: are we being kettled?
O: not you are not"
"O: we are here to remain impartial, to prevent a breach of the peace … the reason the breach of the peace containment has gone in is that several people have already said they are leaving, they haven't left, and tried to go inside the Embassy [sic], across the road to the Embassy and also hurled abuse at the staff inside the embassy, OK? We are here to prevent a breach of the peace and unfortunately – the minority have caused it for the rest of you
C: … and we're not particularly rowdy, we're just stood here, so like what other factor do you ….
Rooke: you are one factor, by trying to pull people down that road – you were one factor … Now we are preventing it, yeah, OK? You and whoever was down there pulling people down that road, you were the factor that caused it. That it where the breach of the peace … was coming from, and we are preventing that"
"Our senior officer has authorised a breach of the peace containment, because certain individuals from this protest have abused the trust by saying they were leaving … certain people from this protest have said that they were leaving. As they were leaving they tried to get round the side of the building, they've also hurled abuse at members of staff there. Because of that the breach of the people containment has been authorised and is in place. "
"we are emboldened to say that there is a breach of the peace whenever harm is actually done or is likely to be done to a person or in his presence to his property or a person is in fear of being so harmed through an assault, an affray, a riot, unlawful assembly or other disturbance. It is for this breach of the peace when done in his presence or the reasonable apprehension of it taking place that a constable, or anyone else, may arrest an officer without warrant. "
"I would acknowledge the danger of hindsight, and I would accept that the judgment of the officer on the spot, in the exigency of the moment, demands respect. But making all allowances, I cannot accept the chief constable's argument. It was entirely reasonable to suppose that some or all of those on board the coaches might wish to cause damage and injury to the base at RAF Fairford, and to enter the base with a view to causing further damage and injury. It was not reasonable to suppose that even these passengers simply wanted a violent confrontation with the police, which they could have had in the lay-by. Nor was it reasonable to anticipate an outburst of disorder on arrival of these passengers in the assembly area or during the procession to the base, during which time the police would be in close attendance and well able to identify and arrest those who showed a violent propensity or breached the conditions to which the assembly and procession were subject. The focus of any disorder was expected to be in the bell-moth area outside the base, and the police could arrest troublemakers then and there …"
"This does not mean that the officer must be able to say that the breach is going to happen in the next few seconds or next few minutes. That would be an impossible standard to meet, since a police officer will rarely be able to predict just when violence will break out. The protagonists may take longer than expected to resort to violence or it may flare up remarkably quickly. Or else, as in O'Kelly v Harvey the breach of the peace may be likely to occur when others arrive on the scene and there is no way of knowing exactly when that will happen. There is no need for the police officer to wait until the opposing group hove into sight before taking action. That would be to turn every intervention into an exercise in crisis management. As Cooke P observed in Minto v Police, 'it would be going too far to say as a matter of law that the powers of the police at common law can be exercised only when an instantaneous breach of the peace is apprehended' …"
"In my opinion, that proposition and the statements on which it relies are to be rejected. So too the suggestion that imminence is a flexible concept, different degrees of which may justify different forms of preventive action. I regard the reasonable apprehension of an imminent breach of the peace as an important threshold requirement, which must exist before any form of preventive action is permissible. … That is not to suggest that imminence falls to be judged in absolute and purely temporal terms, according to some measure of minutes. What is imminent has to be judged in the context under consideration, and the absence of any further opportunity to take preventive action may have relevance."
"Containment is only permitted where a breach of the peace is taking place or is reasonably thought to be imminent. It is a method of last resort where other possible steps to prevent a breach of the peace would be ineffective … and it must be proportionate … It is clear, therefore, that containment is not permissible for some purpose other then to prevent a breach of the peace which is taking place or reasonably thought to be imminent."
"Putting it another way, the court would surely not find a s115 complaint proved if any violence likely to have been provoked on the part of others would be not merely unlawful but wholly unreasonable - as, of course, it would be if the defendant's conduct was not merely lawful but such as in no material way interfered with the other's rights. A fortiori, if the defendant was properly exercising his own basic rights, whether of assembly, demonstration or free speech."
The Claimant's Perspective
"He appeared to be beckoning. It was my belief that he was trying to bring the other protesters closer. My immediate thought was that he wanted to approach Shimon Peres. It was a cold day and people were wearing jackets. I feared paint bombs, or that they would try to surround the car. The opportunity to move that way was not viable for him; he did not attempt to. He did not fight back. He stood his ground. My fear was that he wanted to move forward. If the officers had not been there, he might have advanced. After CI Osborn made the decision, I communicated it …"