WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 20 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Legal challenge to “constitutionally unprecedented” protest rights restrictions

Legal challenge to “constitutionally unprecedented” protest rights restrictions

The National Council of Civil Liberties (‘Liberty’) is making a civil claim to challenge the ‘constitutionally unprecedented’ UK anti-protest law that makes it easier for the police to interfere with protest rights.

Under new regulations police can restrict peaceful demonstrations as “serious disruption to the life of the community” if they consider obstructions or delays caused by public protest to be “more than minor”.

Proposed changes to the Public Order Act 1986 along these lines had been rejected by the House of Lords after much debate and scrutiny. However, the former home secretary Suella Braverman sought to bypass these objections, utilising the government’s “Henry VIII” powers to amend the law through regulations rather than legislation.

Liberty is seeking to have the regulations overturned, saying they ‘represent a constitutionally unprecedented attempt on the part of the executive to achieve by the back door through delegated legislation what it was not able to achieve through the front.’

Katy Watts, a lawyer at Liberty, said: ‘These laws had been thrown out by parliament just months before the then home secretary introduced them. It’s shocking to see the government so flagrantly disregard our vital democratic checks and balances, and we’re determined not to let this stand.’ The government should not be ‘allowed to get away with it. ’

The Home Office says while the right to protest is recognised, ‘it is also important to safeguard the right of the law-abiding majority to conduct their ordinary activities’ and that proper parliamentary procedure was followed.