The High Court have ruled that a London-wide police ban against Extinction Rebellion protests was unlawful, it was announced this morning.
The ban was imposed in the second week of the activist group’s ‘”Autumn Rebellion”, during which more than 1,800 protestors were arrested.
The group appealed the ban on the grounds that it was a “unprecedented and unlawful” curtailment on the right to protest.
Extinction Rebellion’s lawyers have suggested that hundreds of those arrested could bring legal action against the Metropolitan Police over their arrests.
Assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “The decision to apply the conditions on 14 October on the Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’ protest was not taken lightly.
“After more than a week of serious disruption in London both to communities and across our partner agencies, and taking account of the enormous ongoing effort by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service and across the UK to police the protest, we firmly believed that the continuation of the situation was untenable.”
In a statement the Met said it would carefully consider the judgement before deciding on its next steps.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“Today’s ruling confirms what we said at the time – that the police’s blanket ban on Extinction Rebellion protests was unlawful and a complete overstep.
“The sweeping, ill-defined and capital-wide ban sent the chilling message that basic freedoms in this country can be set aside when the authorities choose to do so.”
Activists brought central London to a halt in October, blocking roads and glueing themselves to buildings throughout Westminster and the City.
At the time, the Metropolitan Police’s deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “These conditions have been imposed due to the continued breaches of the section 14 condition previously implemented, and ongoing serious disruption to the community.”
However, the ban did little to stop protests, with activists returning to sites including Trafalgar Square to continue action.
The group then garnered widespread condemnation after two protesters jumped on top of a Jubilee line train at Canning Town.
Around 8,000 Met Police officers were deployed during the demonstrations this month, while 21,000 were asked to work 12-hour shifts.
Extinction Rebellion’s protests cost the Metropolitan Police at least £37m and caused other investigations to be halted.
This comes on top of the £16m bill racked up during previous Extinction Rebellion protests in April.
Scotland Yard was forced to fork out £3.5m for overtime and £6m for officers drafted in from other police forces, with almost £12m in staffing costs.
164 people were charged for their role in the disruption.
Main image credit: Getty