Sir Mark Rowley’s article in the standard stated, “…While we said that our tolerance for disruption of the Coronation celebrations was low, it was not zero. I must challenge those claiming there was a ‘protest ban’ around the Coronation. This is simply not accurate. There were hundreds of undisturbed protestors along the route, including a large group in Trafalgar Square, although small in comparison to the tens of thousands seeking to enjoy the event.” Yes, but the leader of Republic was arrested when Republic had been talking to the police months in advance about their peaceful protest. The police could have asked the protesters to come early so vans and bags could have been searched. I want to know on what evidence were these arrests made.
“…Officers have told me how the celebrating crowds applauded and cheered as they made 17 arrests in The Mall area close to the processional route and imminent to the start of the procession.” This looks like point scoring – disappointing in a commissioner. So the crowd supported what the police were doing; they were there to see the Coronation, so were hardly likely to take the protesters’ side – that is what living in a democracy is about – EVERYONE being allowed to express their opinion.
“Much of the ill-informed commentary on the day is wholly inaccurate – for example, protest was not banned. I want to be absolutely clear – our activity was targeted at those we believed were intent on causing serious disruption and criminality. Serious and reliable intelligence told us that the risks were very real. 53 individuals have been bailed, and most of the following investigations will be lengthy as we work towards criminal charges.” Ok, there were peaceful protests, but the head of Republic was arrested and detained for sixteen hours – that’s unacceptable. It’s petty – Yes, we’ve talked to you about Republic’s intentions, but we are going to arrest the head of your organisation just in case. Graham Smith was arrested at 07.30am and not released until after 11pm.
However, on reviewing the evidence, we will be taking no further action against the six Republic protestors arrested. Officers searched a vehicle on Saturday morning and found items which at the time they believed could have been used as part of a ‘lock on’ style protest.” What was the lock on equipment exactly – just the plastic straps that held the placards together? Considering the Met’s history, we should be told what the intelligence was. I hope it wasn’t from the Daily Mail.
“As I would expect, the arresting officers were vigilant, curious, and proactive. They formed the ‘reasonable suspicion’ necessary to arrest for the new Section 2 Public Order Act 2023 offence of Being Equipped to Lock On, and these were the only arrests under the new legislation. Having now reviewed the evidence and potential lines of enquiry, we do not judge that we will be able to prove criminal intent beyond all reasonable doubt.” To be credible you’ll need to give us more than that.