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Monday, May 08, 2006 

Joined-up, arrogant contemptuous government.

Only 2 weeks ago, but what seems aeons ago in what has gone on since then, Henry Porter and Tony Blair had an email conversation about civil liberties and the rule of law. Included in one of Tony's replies was the following:

You say people can only have blank placards outside Parliament and can't protest. Go and look at the placards of those camped outside Parliament - they are most certainly not blank and usually contain words not entirely favourable to your correspondent.


Peace activist Brian Haw may have to end his five-year vigil outside Parliament as the government has won an appeal against an earlier legal ruling.

Last July, Mr Haw, 56, from Worcestershire, won a High Court action against a new law threatening his round-the-clock protest.

But three Court of Appeal judges have now overturned that decision.

Previously in the High Court, lawyers for Mr Haw argued that his demonstration had begun four years earlier and therefore he did not have to apply for authorisation.

The government said Mr Haw posed a potential security risk and described his argument as absurd, but judges ruled by a 2-1 majority in Mr Haw's favour.

But on Monday, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, Lord Justice Laws and Lady Justice Hallett overturned the decision and refused permission for him to appeal to the House of Lords.

Sometimes it's the little things that really make you angry. For 5 years Brian Haw has made his principled stand for peace and protested outside parliament, which not a single person would argue against it being his right if he wishes to. The government couldn't move him on when they made a fundamental error in drafting the legislation banning protests within a 1km of parliament, so now they have to hide behind the banner of "security" when what they really mean is that his continued protest amounts to terrorism. After all, when Maya Evans was convicted under the "Serious and Organised Crime Act" for demonstrating within 1km of parliament, her MP Michael Foster wrote the following to the Independent:

Historically all sorts of protests have taken place around Parliament, but with the current terrorist threat it would be easy to mask a terrorist atrocity under the guise of a legitimate demonstration.

Yes, that's right. Behind Brian's banners and placards he's actually manufacturing the poison ricin, ready at any moment to smear it on the doorknobs of every MP's office.

The appeal court judges struck down the original ruling, completely falling for the government's argument which was originally and rightly deemed unable to catch Mr Haw. The government could have redrafted the legislation and submitted it to parliament again - except now Mr Haw and his stand have become a matter of principle to everyone who is opposed to Labour's attacks on the right to protest without first seeking permission from the Met. It'd also be the perfect opportunity for David Cameron to show that his party are committed to civil liberties, and probably defeat the government in the bargain. That Blair one week points how just how free we really are and then in the next week appeals against the freedom that he lauded shows the contempt and arrogance of Labour in trying to crush all dissent. One has to wonder whether Mr Haw will be evicted from parliament square at the same time as Mr Blair.

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Time to decide whether this is the point at which we all, as a matter of conscience and in defence of free speech, break the law by standing beside Brian Haw.


The whole route the government is going down is redicuous, hopefuly a single big event will help highlight what is going on.

If you havnt already, please sign up to the pledge at www.pledgebank.com/protest so make a point about the banning of protest around parliament.

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