Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Police Breach The Peace

Parliament Square peace campaigner snatched in midnight police operation

10th May 2004

Brian Haw, the Parliament Square peace protestor, who has spent almost three years in a continuous anti-war protest vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament, was arrested on May 10 and had both his possessions and his extensive protest display removed by police operation.

Mr Haw has been in Parliament Square continuously since 1 June 2001 in protest against the US/UK support of economic sanctions in Iraq and the subsequent invasion of Iraq and the 'war on terror'.

At around 12.20am, he was approached by a number of officers under the command of Inspector Forsyth of Charing Cross Police Station. Apparently, police were concerned about a 'suspect vehicle', some distance away. They imposed a security cordon under the terrorism act and the area was cleared of other members of the public before an incident took place in which Mr Haw was arrested, and three supporters who were present at the time, were also threatened with arrest.

Despite the supposed security threat the police van did not leave the scene for some time and Mr Haw was last seen being held down on the floor of the police van, having been detained by four officers. After Mr Haw's arrest, the suspect car was almost immediately identified to be posing no threat and the security cordon lifted.

Subsequent to his arrest, and despite there being no longer any current security concerns, the remaining officers removed all of Mr Haw's possessions and protest placards from the site. They even commandeered a passing WH Smith news lorry to effect the removal.

In March this year the police told Mr Haw and his solicitor that they were seeking to remove him from Parliament Square but were not able to say which legislation they would employ. This followed a landmark High Court ruling which found in favour of Mr Haw and his right to protest on the site. On 4 October 2002 Westminster City Council's pursued High Court proceedings against him for obstruction of the highway but the case was dismissed on the grounds that Brian was exercising his freedom of expression and assembly under the Human Rights Act.

Mr Haw has long voiced the concern that the various attempts to remove him have been, and continue to be, politically motivated.

Mr Haw is being legally represented by leading human right practice, Bindmans. His solicitor, Michael Schwarz, said: "Brian Haw is peacefully campaigning on perhaps the most significant issue of the day at a place which is supposed to be the very heart of our democracy. It is difficult to think of a more compelling example of the deployment of the rights to protest" Mr Haw is now being held at Charing Cross Police Station. He has suffered hand-cuff injuries.

Meanwhile, Mr Haw's supporters are currently continuing the protest in Parliament Square.

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