Civil Liberties

2 July 2012News in Brief

Former British police spy Mark Kennedy, who infiltrated anti-climate change and other activist groups between 2003 and 2010 (see PN 2530), is now working as a security consultant for the Densus Group in the US, providing ‘investigative services, risk and threat assessments’, according to an entry on his online LinkedIn profile.

The new job, like Kennedy’s initial exposure, was first reported on the activist media website Indymedia before being picked up as ‘exclusive’ breaking news by…

2 July 2012News

Veteran campaigner challenges 'extremism' database

John Catt, 87, plans to appeal against the decision of the high court to allow the police to keep his personal details on the police’s National Domestic Extremism Database, despite the fact that he has never been convicted of any crime.

Lord justice Gross and Mr justice Irwin handed down their judgement on 30 May, citing the anti-war protestor’s participation in Smash EDO protests in his home town, Brighton.

Lord Gross said: ‘Although many people at Smash EDO protests do not…

2 July 2012News

Did police spy Bob Lambert fire-bomb Debenhams?

Police spy Bob Lambert fire-bombed the Harrow branch of Debenham’s in July 1987, Green MP Caroline Lucas told parliament on 13 June. The attack was perhaps ‘a move to bolster Lambert’s credibility’ within the Animal Liberation Front, which he had succeeded in infiltrating.

Lambert then helped convict two other members of the group, Geoff Sheppard and Andrew Clark, who carried out fire-bombings of Debenham stores in Luton and Romford at the same time as the Harrow attack. Sheppard and…

30 May 2012News

Recent campaigning in Wales in solidarity with the US whistleblower.

WISE Up for Bradley Manning is a grassroots network in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (WISE) taking action for the young US military intelligence analyst who has been held by the US government for two years without trial.

Accused of blowing the whistle on US war crimes and revealing other truths the US would have preferred to keep buried, Bradley Manning has been tortured and denied his constitutional rights.

When US president Barack Obama, commander-in-chief of the…

31 March 2012Feature

As the ban on unauthorised protest around Parliament under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) is finally repealed, the new restrictions that replace it are being tested in the High Court.

Since restrictions on ‘demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament’ were first mooted in response to Brian Haw’s anti-war protest in Parliament Square, individuals have been standing up and creating a collective challenge in defence of the freedom to protest.

The restrictions received wider public attention when PN’s own Milan Rai and Maya Evans were convicted for reading out the names of Iraqi and British dead opposite Downing Street. Mark Thomas’s lone mass demos made fun of…

30 March 2012News

The right to a fair trial is under attack.

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allowed the setting up of Special Immigration Appeals Courts.

These meet mainly in secret with only the prosecution and the judge knowing the full evidence against the defendant and the identity of witnesses.

The defendant is not allowed to know the details of some evidence obtained by security services, thus putting paid to the idea of a fair and open trial in such cases.

And now we have the recently introduced…

30 March 2012News

On 5 March, Parliament Square protester Maria Gallastegui had her day in court contesting the new restrictions on demonstrating around parliament.

Maria was the only Parliament Square camper given leave to challenge the new Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRASRA), which replaces the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) which expired at the end of March.

As PN went to press, it was still not clear when the high court would announce its decision. ‘Originally, they said they would make a decision [in the week of 20 March],’ Maria told PN. ‘However, they keep on pushing the date back…

1 March 2012News

A new official report on undercover police fails to deal with the real issues

On 2 February, the police oversight body, her majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary (HMIC), published a report on national police intelligence units. This was a response to the outing of a number of police spies – including Mark Kennedy – who infiltrated protest groups on a long-term basis, forming sexual relationships with protesters, and some even having children with them, using their false personae. (See PN 2528, 2530.)

The main target of the report was the national public order…

1 March 2012News in Brief

In late news, on 2 January, US president Barack Obama signed the national defense authorisation act into law, empowering the US military to arrest and detain without charge or trial those it ‘believes’ are al-Qa’eda supporters, Taliban supporters and ‘associated forces’.

1 March 2012Feature

Four hundred people are being prosecuted for refusing to fill out the 2011 census. Many of them took their stand on political grounds. Here are some of those who are resisting.

Deborah Glass-Woodin

Deborah Glass-Woodin was an active member of the Green Party and served on the city and county council in Oxford, where she still lives. Deborah had her pre-trial hearing on 2 February and her full hearing is scheduled for 14 May at Reading magistrates’ court.

After spending many years as an active member of the Green Party, she has become a green activist. In 2008, she was arrested during a protest against treefelling in Oxford. The charges were later…

24 January 2012Feature

PN talks to peace activist Maria Gallastegui following her recent victory in the high court.

Maria Gallastegui and fellow peace campers protesting against war on Iran or Syria at the Peace Strike camp in Parliament Square, on 19 January. PHOTO: Dan Viesnik

Long-time peace camper Maria Gallastegui, 53, has managed to stave off eviction from Parliament Square, despite the clearing of all other protest camps in the central London square.

Among other structures cleared, the peace camp set up by the late Brian Haw in 2001 was…

24 January 2012News

High court rules on St Paul's occupation

On 17 January, high court judge Keith Lindblom ruled that Occupy LSX, the tent city that has stood in front of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral since 15 October, was unlawfully obstructing a public highway.

Enforcement was delayed until 24 January (after PN goes to press) to allow time for an appeal.

However, despite the prospect of losing the birthplace of the UK’s Occupy movement, residents of the St Paul’s Cathedral encampment told PN  they were not discouraged by the ruling. …

1 November 2011News

New legislation to curtail protest around Parliament.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (PRSRA) which received royal assent on 15 September enshrines the latest attempt to try to prevent continuous protest in Parliament Square, in particular Brian Haw’s 10-year old peace camp, which continues after his death.

Part 3 of the PRSRA repeals the sections of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) that required police authorisation for political protest and banned the use of loudspeakers in an area including…

1 October 2011News

The law banning "unauthorised" protests around Parliament has finally been repealed, but what will replace it?

On 15 September, the house of commons repealed the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) restricting protest around parliament. Its replacement, the new Police and Social Responsibility Bill, which has not yet come into force, appears to prohibit 24-hour protests in Parliament Square. Tents, sleeping bags, structures and any items associated with maintaining an ongoing presence seem to be illegal the square.

Camp hit

On 31 August, police dismantled…

1 October 2011News

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…