Charges dropped against 105 Extinction Rebellion protesters
More than 100 Extinction Rebellion supporters have had charges against them dropped after the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) ban on protests in London was ruled unlawful.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the decision will affect about 105 cases immediately. Of the total, 73 had been charged with breaching section 14 of the Public Order Act, 24 had been charged with a breach and highway obstruction, and eight had been charged with stand-alone highway obstruction. All will face no further action.
More than 1,800 people were arrested during the climate change protest group’s ‘Autumn Uprising’ event, with locations around central London, City Airport and the London Underground network targeted.
The MPS initially made use of public order legislation to restrict the action to Trafalgar Square, but after repeated breaches imposed a London-wide protest ban.
High Court judges ruled last month that effectively banning protests was unlawful as it exceeded police powers. This has paved the way for potential compensation claims against the MPS.
A spokesman for the MPS said: “Following careful consideration and further legal advice, the MPS has decided it will not appeal the judgment in relation to conditions imposed on Extinction Rebellion ‘Autumn Uprising’.
“The MPS remains disappointed by the judgment, but of course respects the decision of the court. We have previously stated public order legislation needs updating.
“This case is the first time the legislation has been tested in such unique circumstances. It has highlighted that policing demonstrations like these within the existing legal framework can be challenging.
“The MPS will continue to carefully consider and review the use of this legislation during future demonstrations.”
A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said it believed charges against as many as 1,000 people would eventually be dropped.
Raj Chada, head of the protest team at Hodge Jones and Allen, which is representing many of the protestors, said: “From the moment that the high court ruled the Met police’s ban was unlawful, this was an obvious consequence. The CPS have dithered and delayed before bowing to the inevitable and only caused more anxiety and expense to our clients.”