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George Thomas successfully defends Metropolitan Police in challenge to containment

16th September 2013

Last week judgment was delivered in the High Court in the case of Wright v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2013] EWHC 2739 (QB). Mr Wright had sued the Metropolitan Police for false imprisonment and breaches of his Art.10 and 11 rights.  On 30th March 2011 he had been protesting with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign outside Chatham House, where the Israeli President, Shimon Peres was speaking.  Shortly before the arrival of the Israeli President, the Metropolitan Police imposed an absolute cordon to prevent a breach of the peace, which lasted for just over an hour, the duration of the President’s visit.

The claims were dismissed.  The Court found that there were reasonable grounds for the senior officers to believe that the Claimant was beckoning fellow protestors to join him near the side entrance of Chatham House, and that one of these protestors might try to approach the Israeli President’s car.  Such conduct would be unreasonable, and the anticipated use of force in response by the Metropolitan Police and/or the Israeli security officers would not be wholly unreasonable.  A breach of the peace was therefore imminent, and remained imminent for the relatively short period of the President’s visit.  The imposition of an absolute containment, and the use of minimal force to place the Claimant inside the cordon, were proportionate and lawful.

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