Two arrests after no surrender on pink "war criminal" banner

IssueApril 2006
News by Emma Sangster

In the early afternoon of Sunday 26 March, Brian Haw was standing with fellow campaigner Barbara Tucker when the police came by and decided that a crime was being committed. Barbara was wearing a pink sparkly banner that read “Bliar, war criminal” and was not keen to give her name and address for no good reason. This was enough to get her arrested under the new law banning unauthorised protest near parliament.

Brian Haw was then arrested on “suspicion of obstructing police” for refusing to hand over the banner as evidence that a great crime had occurred. Brian said, “The police were attempting to steal my banner, and refused to let me show them it was my property. There is CCTV all over the place if they want evidence”.

Brian's strength of will won out as he declined to surrender the banner during the whole of his time in custody - despite the application of a good cop-bad cop routine.

Politically embarrassing

Barbara is one of 11 people already convicted under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) for demonstrating without authorisation in the “Designated Area”. Brian said, “The police are harassing Barbara because she joins me in my demonstration yet they make themselves scare when it would be too politically embarrassing to make an arrest”.

Brian himself is a seasoned arrestee, but has yet to be deterred from his continuous protest for peace and justice - which will be five years old in June. Even the SOCPA legislation - which was ostensibly devised to target his protest - failed to remove him.

Both Brian and Barbara were released without charge but were “reported” to the Crown Prosecution Service - a tactic increasingly used in dealing with protesters around Parliament, which allows a charge to be made later. Both have made a formal complaint to the police for wrongful arrest.