Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What David Davis is talking about.

In his resignation speech, David Davis talks of the "slow strangulation" of fundamental freedoms. The articles in this blog already document some of this. You can follow some of the links under the topics list in the side bar on the left or otherwise search the blog for articles of interest.

However more documentation can be found over at Magna Carta Plus. The latest article provides some pointers to get you started.

Monday, June 02, 2008

More on the anti-Scientology protesters fined in Birmingham

Regarding my previous article, this thread on the Enturbulation forums is well worth reading in full. The main points I draw from it are as follows:

  • The protesters had been warned twice that they were not allowed to leaflet in the area concerned and were issued £50 fixed penalty notices under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005. This Act has a clear exemption for material handed out for political purposes or for a religion or belief. It seems to me that protesting against Scientology counts as a political purpose.
  • The protesters were warned that if they used the word "cult" on a sign or a flyer they will be arrested for religious hatred! Note that the Religious and Racial Hatred Act also has a protection for freedom of speech (see Section 29J of the amendment to the Public Order Act) that reads:
    Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.
If the facts of the case are as described in that forum, then it seems to me that the police's actions in this case do not accord with the law.

West Midlands police fine anti-Scientology protesters for handing out leaflets?

[Hat Tip: The Pub Philosopher]

I'd be grateful if anyone can confirm/corroborate this story...

According to a post on

A mini raid on the "org" in Birmingham today ended with four demonstrators handing out leaflets being issued with £50 fixed penalty tickets by Police and a Birmingham city warden under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act.

On two previous ocassions Police had warned them they were breaking the law for handing out leaflets.

Another interesting interpretation or perhaps (mis) interpretation of the law given the Act was designed to stop people handing out commercial flyers, and Section 8.8 of the act allows for the "distribution of leaflets where the distribution is charitable or religious purposes so as not to inhibit right to freedom of expression and freedom of thought and conscience and religion enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998"..
A PCSO from the same police force recently told a couple of Christians that they could not hand out leaflets in a Muslim area.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Herald article on Glasgow police banning "cult" placards last weekend

The Sunday Herald have a report on the events I witnessed last weekend. Apparently they got this comment from Strathclyde Police:

Strathclyde Police admitted officers had stopped activists using the word "cult" after receiving a complaint.

A spokeswoman said: "The word is not a breach of the peace in itself. However, in this case it was exacerbating the situation and our stance was that we had to remove that.

"From a policing point of view, a balance has to be struck between the right to assemble and hold a meeting and other persons' rights to go about their business or demonstrate without being obstructed or hindered."
I've seen the protesters out several times in recent weeks. As far as I can tell they have not hindered the public using Buchanan Street nor have they prevented the Scientologists from organising their "free stress tests". They have simply held up placards and worn masks. They may have used some chants but if so I've not witnessed that. To me, it seems they have done nothing wrong and the police have failed to justify their action.

If someone you're protesting against can get the police to remove your placards simply because they (claim to) find a word on the placard offensive, then it seems to me the right to peaceful protest is dead.