A republican protester, who was detained during King Charles’ coronation, is initiating legal action against the Metropolitan Police. The protester, Graham Smith, is the leader of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic. He articulates that there was no legitimate reasoning behind his arrest, having previously detailed a discussion with officers in anticipation of the protest. This situation potentially presents a legal examination of the new powers conferred to the police in the same year.
Although the Metropolitan Police verifies the knowledge of the impending legal action, it offers no further commentary. Smith, however, demands not only an apology from the force but also applies for a judicial review about the decision to apprehend him along with five other demonstrators.
Uniquely, Smith insists that the law enforcement officers admit the arrests were erroneous and unlawful. Consequently, he seeks damages and pecuniary remunerations for the same.
The Republic members were suspected of preparing to ‘lock on’— a technique employed by protesters to complicate their removal— ostensibly due to their possession of luggage straps used to fasten their placards. Smith, detained for over 14 hours, had engaged in a four-month dialogue with senior Metropolitan Police personnel regarding the planned protest.
On the day of his arrest, Smith alleges, he was unjustifiably hindered from contacting the Metropolitan Police’s designated liaison officer. A couple of days after the arrests, the six individuals were informed that no additional action would be taken against them.
Outraged by the arrest, Smith commented that it was “an egregious assault on the rights of peaceful protesters” and suspected it to be “part of a systematic endeavour to undermine and disrupt our protest.”
Through legal documents perused by the BBC, Smith presents an argument that the police had no reasonable suspicion to arrest him, let alone accuse him of any offence. This argument showcases his abundant communication and cooperation with the police.
Smith further contends that the arrest violated certain portions of the Human Rights Act. He argued that the detaining officer had no reasonable belief to necessitate his arrest.
Their detention followed the enactment of fresh legislation, mere days prior to the protest, which now identifies locking on or being equipped to lock on as offenses under the Public Order Act. However, Smith claims that the straps used to secure placards did not intend or facilitate the action of locking on.
In response to this narrative, the Metropolitan Police have indicated that the arrest was premised upon the reasonable suspicion that Smith was committing an offence. They maintain that Smith’s human rights were not encroached upon, and that the arrest was believed to be necessary.
Following this, Scotland Yard issued a statement: “We can confirm that a Judicial Review Claim has been issued, and commenting on ongoing proceedings at this stage would be inappropriate.” The Home Office has chosen to refrain from comment.