SOCPA kaput

IssueSeptember 2008
News by David Polden

In Westminster Magistrates Court on 25 July, an admission was made by the prosecutors that lent weight to the belief that the Serious Organised Crime & Police Act (SOCPA) can no longer be used against protestors near Parliament.
Barbara Tucker was appearing accused of causing alarm and distress to Alan Duncan MP by haranguing him outside Parliament for voting for the Iraq war.
In the prosecution case summary appeared the remarkable statement: “Owing to changes in SOCPA legislation the unauthorised demonstration offences cannot be proceeded with”. But there have been no such legislative changes!

Juliet wins

And on 20 August, a district judge dismissed a case of trespass on a nuclear licensed site (AWE Aldermaston) brought against Juliet McBride, the first case brought under section 128 of SOCPA, amended under section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to apply to nuclear licensed sites.
After visiting the site, the judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the SOCPA legislation applies only to the nuclear licensed site, not the entire space within the perimeter fence, and that Juliet McBride had not entered the licensed area when arrested.
She was sitting quietly on a fence holding a rainbow flag with the word “peace” on it, when arrested on 10 March 2007.
Her action was to draw attention to the building of facilities at Aldermaston to test, design and build new warheads for Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, in advance of a parliamentary vote.

Topics: Civil liberties