ridiculous incident, more suited to a Tom Sharpe novel than the real world.But by then I was already beginning to suspect that the police were using (or should that bemisusing?) all their lovely shiny new "anti-terrorist" powers in entirely inappropriate situations. And why does Section 44 of the Terrorism Act ring bells I wonder? Ah yes, I remember... just mull this over from The Guardian[http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/sep/13/humanrights.armstrade] of 2003:
"Demonstrators at this week's London arms fair yesterday were given permission for a full high court hearing into the legality of the police's use of anti-terrorist legislation to arrest and stop and search protesters.Mr Justice Maurice Kay said the application for judicial review from the campaign group Liberty raised a 'serious issue' which should be heard assoon as possible after October 1. Liberty brought the case against the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, and the home secretary,David Blunkett, on behalf of Kevin Gillan, a student from Sheffield. He was stopped by police outside the Defence Systems and EquipmentInternational exhibition in London under the Terrorism Act 2000."
There was also a bit about it in, amongst other papers, The Telegraph [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1441139/Terror-laws-used-on-arms-protesters.html].Now I don't know about you, but it seems to me that there's a world of difference between someone strapping explosives on themself and wandering into a crowded public place, and someone peacefully protesting against an arms fair (that is, an exhibition where one can see ondisplay - and indeed buy if one's "credentials" are "right", which is to say, approved by the State - all the things manufactured to kill people with).Then there was this, from greatreporter.com [http://greatreporter.com/mambo/content/view/820/5/], in August 2005...
'UK police use anti-terror Bill against protesters'
Five protestors are arrested in a vigil outside Parliament, as the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill (SOCPB) is enforced for the first time inLondon"
It seems to me there's a world of difference between someone loading bombs into a car and then leaving said vehicle outside of, say, the BBC,and someone participating in an "unauthorised" though peaceful demonstration outside Parliament. A demonstration, moreover, that was
"...designed to highlight the intrusion of civil liberties and highlight how the laws to tackle terrorism are now being used against peacefulprotestors."
Nor is the above simply cherry-picking from a limited number of instances.Its becoming increasingly common (in my experience at least) to find the police using some form or another of this body of new "Anti-TerrorismLaws" (some of which masquerade under another name, as for example the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act that, so the just-quotedarticle claims, was "designed to tackle
and organised crime") when policing protests, particularly where there is a likelihood of someform of direct action occurring.
The CAAT March to Custom House. Disarm DSEi protest,London 2007