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The right to march?
On 26 August, the metropolitan police in London obtained the home secretary’s consent to ban marches in Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest, and Newham for one month from 2 September. The police stated that the decision had been based on “specific intelligence and information which has led us to believe that serious public disorder, violence and damage could be caused by… marches in these areas.”
The implication was that the ban was a reaction to plans by the racist English Defence League to hold a march in Tower Hamlets on 3 September.
But why five boroughs over 30 days? Marches affected by the ban included ones against the DSEi arms fair in Docklands from 13-16 September.
Taherali Gulamhussein, a volunteer with the Network for Police Monitoring, instructed solicitors to threaten legal action to challenge the lawfulness of the ban. On 12 September, one minute before this legal challenge was due to be initiated, the police themselves asked the home secretary to lift the ban in all boroughs but Tower Hamlets, and this was granted. The arms fair marches then went ahead unhindered.