The last few days people have been arrested by heavy handed police officers for simply holding up signs saying “Not my King” which “is deeply troubling that any police officer would think that it might.”
Following the proclamation of King Charles III there has been arrests made in Oxford, London and Scotland.
A barrister who peacefully held up a “blank piece of paper” was asked for his details by an officer, following this the Metropolitan Police issued a statement after the video went viral.
Paul Powlesland, 36, a barrister and nature rights activist from Barking in east London, had travelled to the centre of the capital on Monday.
“Why would you ask for my details?” he can be heard asking the officer in a video, who said: “I wanted to make sure you didn’t have bail conditions (inaudible).”
The officer replied, “You said you were going to write stuff on it, that may offend people, around the King. It may offend someone.”
Powlesland said the officer told him he risked being arrested if he wrote “not my King” on the paper.
Police in Parliament Square threatening to arrest a protester carrying a blank sign if he writes ‘Not my King’ on it as an offence under the Public Order Act. Doesn’t matter where your politics lie, this should alarm you. It’s a peaceful protest. No arrests made for “My King” 👇 https://t.co/Vdt5wW4NLF
— Stuzi 🐝🐝🐝 (@Stuzipants) September 12, 2022
The Secret Barrister offered free legal advice, saying, “The lowest offence on the rung of offences under the Public Order Act 1986 is section 5, which reads as follows.
“In short, unless the sign is threatening or abusive, no offence is committed.
“Being merely offensive is not an offence.”
The Secret Barristet then added in a separate tweet to Powlesland for holding up a “blank piece of paper.”
“This would not constitute an offence under the Public Order Act.
“And it is deeply troubling that any police officer would think that it might.”
The lowest offence on the rung of offences under the Public Order Act 1986 is section 5, which reads as follows.
In short, unless the sign is threatening or abusive, no offence is committed.
Being merely offensive is not an offence. pic.twitter.com/oy59tdfHKL
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) September 12, 2022
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said, “We’re aware of a video online showing an officer speaking with a member of the public outside the Palace of Westminster earlier today.
“The public absolutely have a right of protest and we have been making this clear to all officers involved in the extraordinary policing operation currently in place and we will continue do so.
“However, the overwhelming majority of interactions between officers and public at this time have been positive as people have come to the capital to mourn the loss of Her Late Majesty the Queen.”
Ruth Smeeth, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said the arrests made by the police are “deeply concerning.”
Adding, “The fundamental right to freedom of expression, including the right to protest, is something to be protected regardless of circumstance.”
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said, “If people are being arrested simply for holding protest placards then it is an affront to democracy and highly likely to be unlawful.”
Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said, “Protest is not a gift from the State, it is a fundamental right.
“Being able to choose what, how, and when we protest is a vital part of a healthy and functioning democracy.”