Serious but not organised

A few weeks ago Mayor of London blog spotted a loophole in the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act that, although it created a big chunk in Westminster which made it illegal to commence protests without permission, Brian Haw‘s ongoing protest was exempt.

At the time I thought it was an amusing story which I would relate down the pub and then promptly forget (which I did), and that it had no chance as a successful legal defence. Until today that is, it turns out Brian Haw has succeded in getting exempted for that very reason. Which is a good thing. But only a very small good thing. The legality of the Act is not in question, so the rest of us can’t join in, and Parliament could happily amend the Act to cover past protests if it wanted to, so there’s no guarantee that Mr Haw will be safe forever.

More scarily, though this error works out in the favour of those of us who cherish democracy, we must remember that it slipped through in the rush to get the Bill passed before the election, which meant it didn’t come under the scrutiny it might otherwise have had. Which leads to the question – what about all the other parts of the bill? Did the muppet who drafted the clauses about the protest part get his hands on the rest of it, the bits that actually had to do with serious organised crime? And what about all the other bills passed at the same time? I shudder to think…

3 thoughts on “Serious but not organised

  1. According to the man on the BBC news last evening if we start protesting before Monday that’s OK because the act only comes into force on August 1, so get down there with your tent sleeping bag and banners!!

  2. Could we therefore organise a continuous rolling protest, keeping the spot ‘warm’ like Mr. Haw is?

    If everyone willing to stand up against the bill chaipped in a few hours every now and then, we could keep the protest going indefinately, and they wouldn’t be able to stop us, since it started prior to the bill. The difficulty would be finding people to do the late hour shifts though. Surely there must be some democracy lovers that work nights?

  3. “Democracy lovers that work nights” or pissheads given a kebab and a sedative? Maybe we should all make the pledge online and get motivated?

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