Coronation anti-monarchy protesters are told police are taking no further action | Coronation of King Charles
Anti-monarchy protesters who were arrested at Saturday’s coronation have been told police will take no further action, a leading campaigner has said.
Graham Smith, the leader of the Republic group, said he was considering legal action and had called for an investigation into the conduct of the Metropolitan Police.
Smith tweeted Monday evening: “We have just been told that the police will take no further action.
“It has been a shameful episode and we will speak to lawyers to take legal action. I also await a full investigation into why they repeatedly lied to us and who authorized the arrests.
Earlier on Monday, the activist said the arrests were a premeditated attempt to “disrupt and diminish” the Republican protest and that the police decision to break up the planned protest before it started violated their rights. He added that the group had been in conversation with Scotland Yard for months before the event.
It came as politicians at City Hall joined London Mayor Sadiq Khan in demanding answers from Scotland Yard over the detention of Republic protesters and volunteers working for the local council to ensure the safety of people.
Smith told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday morning: ‘We have had four months of close conversation with the Metropolitan Police, during which we explained to them exactly what we are going to do, where we are going to be. We told them how many signs we had, what they would say, that we would have flags, that we would have amplification equipment.
“The amplification equipment was then seized and my colleagues were warned that they would be arrested if they used megaphones. The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.
When asked if he thought his arrest before the event was premeditated, Smith replied, “Absolutely. I have no doubt about it, simply because nothing we did could justify even being detained, arrested and detained.
He said his organization had spoken with police throughout the planning of his protest, with officers saying until the day before that they had no concerns.
“They knew what we were going to do and [said] they would engage with us and not disturb us. They therefore repeatedly lied about their intentions. And I believe they intended to arrest us before they did,” he said.
The Met said it arrested 64 people on Saturday, including members of Westminster City Council’s women’s safety campaign, Night Stars, who distribute rape alarms and other items. Police said intelligence indicated people were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the coronation procession.
Scotland Yard is facing scrutiny for its handling of the event, with Green politician Caroline Russell, who chairs the London Assembly’s Policing and Crime Committee, calling it ‘really worrying’.
She told Today: “It felt like, for someone trying to protest and doing it by the rules, it was very difficult to understand what the rules were.
“It seems absolutely extraordinary that these people who were volunteering, they were there handing out flip flops to people who could no longer walk in their high heels because they had a little too much to drink and handing out alarms of rape. It just seems extraordinary that they got caught in the Met’s backstop. How? It’s just very strange.
Ken Marsh, president of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said police acted “without fear or favour” and needed to act within the context they found on the ground. He said: “Protests can take place in this country. But it’s the level at which you want to make that protest that we have to balance.
He dismissed concerns about authoritarian policing as “paummelling”, insisting that police had done an “incredible job” on a day when the eyes of the world were on the UK. “Not a single incident took place. And it happened all over the world with no need to worry about what happened that day.
Marsh did not address the risk of damage to the country’s reputation from measures taken to prevent protesters from exercising what they say is their right to free speech.
Rishi Sunak backed the police on Monday saying: ‘The police are operationally independent of the government – they will make these decisions based on what they think is best.
“In fact, I’m grateful to the police and everyone else who helped make this weekend so great, successful and safe. It was an amazing effort by so many people. and I am grateful to them for all their hard work.
The Mayor of London said on Sunday: “Some of the arrests made by police in connection with the coronation event raise questions and, while inquiries are ongoing, I have sought urgent clarification from Met officials on the taken procedures.”