A legal challenge over the power of the police to photograph peaceful protesters has failed at the High Court. Andrew Wood, from Oxford, claimed he was harassed by the Metropolitan Police for campaigning against the arms trade. But on Thursday, the force was cleared of breaching Mr Wood’s human rights by photographing him and other activists who had committed no crime. The Met had said its actions were “justified and proportionate”.
Mr Wood had complained that the policy of openly taking pictures of demonstrators, on the basis that they might become involved in future protests, was an illegal interference with the right to take part in political activity both lawfully and peacefully. Mr Wood, media co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), said retaining the photos of him at the annual meeting of Reed Elsevier, was oppressive. Mr Wood had bought a share in the company, which entitled him to attend the meeting in Grosvenor Square, central London, in September 2005.
But Mr Justice McCombe said Mr Wood was photographed in a public street in circumstances in which the presence of the police – and the press – must have been expected. He said that if there was any interference with Mr Wood’s rights, it was “in accordance with the law and proportionate”. The police insisted that the photos, which they said were taken in a non-intimidatory way, would have been destroyed shortly after the event.
Meanwhile Raytheon 9 second day-
The second day of the Raytheon 9 trial went reasonably well. The evidence came from PSNI officers, who mainly gave a fairly flat and factual account of what they’d seen on the morning of the occupation. Importantly, none said that he’d seen violence from any of the 9.
There were exchanges between the prosecutor and defence lawyers about what it is that the prosecution will have to show to establish “affray”—putting people in fear of the lives or safety—and criminal damage: if the defendants can show that they genuinely believed they were helping to stop or hamper a bigger crime, will that be enough for acquittal on the criminal damage count? It sounds very abstract, but this could be the point on which the case turns.
The indications are that it will be Friday before Raytheon witnesses take the stand and can be cross-examined about the nature of the business and the links between Raytheon and defence forces, including the Israeli defence forces.
The case did get some coverage in the mainstream media today. This concentrated on a prosecution suggestion that the 9 had indulged in “an orgy of wanton destruction” and the defence riposte that the 9 had been trying to stop war crimes. Just headline stuff really, but at least the issues may be beginning to leak out into wider society—which is what we need.
Those who are in the dock are all in good spirits, and encouraged by messages of support coming into the DAWC from various parts of the globe.