Suella Braverman ridiculed for a cringeworthy campaign video

Braverman’s protest policy has bitten the dust – at the worst moment

Suella Braverman’s protest policy has bitten the dust – at the worst moment possible for the Conservative government.

The former Home Secretary’s policy allowing police to arrest protesters for almost any reason at all has been ruled unlawful by the High Court – in time to put the mockers on a plan for more power to block pro-Palestine demonstrations.

Last June, Braverman overrode Parliament to change the Public Order Act, in order to give police a free hand to arrest anybody carrying out an act of protest, depending on how disruptive officers think it is.

She had to use secondary legislation to bring these powers into force, after the changes were rejected by the House of Lords six months previously.

This move, in turn, prompted human rights organisation Liberty, that challenges injustice, defends freedom and campaigns to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly, to launch court action against the government.

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Liberty said the then-Home Secretary had changed the law entirely in a way that was an overreach of her power – defining ‘serious disruption’ as anything that causes ‘more than minor’ disruption.

In a letter to Braverman, the organisation said Parliament only gave powers to clarify the law, and not change it entirely. Therefore, Parliament cannot have intended to give the Secretary of State power to amend primary legislation in a way which circumvents the will of Parliament because this would encroach on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.

The making of the Serious Disruption Regulations would be unlawful for being an unjustified interference with the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty, Liberty said.

And the group pointed out that the new legislation was not consulted on fairly, as is required by law. The Government only invited in parties it knew would agree with the proposals, such as the police, but did not ask groups who might have had reasonable concerns – like the public and other groups that might be affected.

Judges at the High Court concurred. They said the legal basis underpinning the new powers was insufficient, and agreed that the Home Office failed to consult properly.

The Home Office is appealing against the decision, and an accelerated appeal process will now take place, with an order quashing the legislation put on hold.

But it will still delay proposals to limit pro-Palestine marches.

Lord Walney (formerly Labour MP John Woodcock) has said it should be easier for police forces to ban demonstrations.

He said this should include where they reasonably believe protests could lead to “intimidation from threatening or abusive conduct”.

And he said groups holding a “significant number of large demonstrations” could be asked to pay towards policing costs, and businesses affected by disruption should be able to get compensation.

Current Home Secretary James Cleverly has said ministers will consider these recommendations soon.

Well, they’d better hurry – and so had the appeal court – because it won’t be long until the Conservatives are out of government (if current opinion polls are to be believed).

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