At the London picket on 10th May, a picketer was informed that he could not hold a sign describing Scientology as a cult. The law used for this was section five of the Public Order Act 1986, which reads as follows:

Section 5 – Harassment, alarm or distress

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he – a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour. or b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby

This is sometimes referred to as the Swiss army knife of British public order law as it can seemingly be adapted for any and all purposes.

The Anon in question has since posted this message at enturbulation.org:

I got court summons

Hello Enturb, I’m sorry if this is the wrong forum to post this in, I haven’t used it much.

Anyway, I suppose I’d better fill in what happened for those who don’t know.

I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult”.

Within 5 minutes of arriving at QVS, I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use ‘that word’, and that the final decision would be made by the Inspector.

At around 11:15, while on the high ground of QVS, I was approached by these happy fellows

I was read the Section 5 Public Order Act of 1986, and was told I was strongly advised to remove the sign. You can see my response in the video, as I read out Justice Latey’s statement about the Cult of Scientology. I was given until 11:30 to remove the sign.

At around 12:05 the police caught up with me, I was given a Court Summons and my details were taken down. Videos will surface. My sign was removed:

The reason I’m posting this is because I intend to fight this. I need your help, Enturbulation. I need precedents, legal advice, definitions and defences. I intend to make a big folder with all the defence you can give me, and in case this does get through to court, I will be well prepared.

Also, what’s the likelihood I’ll need a lawyer? If I do have to get one, it’ll have to come out of my pocket money…

This, however, is not the only area in which problems have arisen with the police. As described in this discussion:

Edinburgh: No megaphones allowed, use of “cult” banned, confined to small area in spite of previous agreement with council, flyering restricted.

Manchester: dog vans deployed, horses used to corall protestors, protest restricted to small area, no chanting, no pictures of Lisa McPherson.

Birmingham: Protestors prevented from handing out leaflets.

Advertisements