Liberty welcomes authorities’ u-turn over protest

A group of activists will no longer have to fork out thousands to march through London, following intense pressure by a leading human rights group.

In January, the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) had been told that it would have to pay a private security firm thousands of pounds to marshal traffic on the streets of the capital.

Civil liberties group Liberty soon weighed into the row, citing Article 11 of the Human Rights Act – which enshrines the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Campaigners had claimed that denying the Metropolitan Police would be able to help manage temporary road closures went against the State’s obligation to take “reasonable steps” to facilitate this type of demonstration.

Now however, Westminster City Council and Transport for London (TfL) have bowed to pressure and said they will assist CACC with the necessary closures.

James Welch, Liberty’s legal director, welcomed the u-turn.

“Finally the authorities have seen sense – but it should never have gone this far. Authorities should have sorted this weeks ago, not kept the Campaign Against Climate Change jumping through unnecessary hoops.

“When the public wish to exercise their fundamental right to protest, police, councils and traffic authorities should be saying ‘let’s make it happen’ – not asking ‘how can we do as little as possible?’. We’ll be ready to help keep them right in future.”

A CACC spokesman said: “We are obviously very relieved that the authorities will be facilitating this demonstration after all.

“We hope that in the future the right to protest will be protected without campaigners being put through the stress and uncertainty of potential costs beyond the reasonable responsibilities of protest organisers.”

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