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Repeal Sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

Comment 20th July 2010

This submission argues for the repeal of undoubtedly one of the, if not the, most illiberal and repressive laws of the many passed by the last Labour Government. Sections 132-138 entirely prohibited protesting within a kilometre of Parliament Square, the very heart of British democracy, without giving a week's notice and many specific details to the authorities.

Why does this matter?

This law was used to arrest a peace protestor reading out the names of the dead in Iraq at the Cenotaph itself. Her only crime was not to stop when ordered by police. If the dead cannot be commemorated at the Cenotaph, if our government cannot be held to account by the very people it represents, if a fundamental and vibrant part of democratic society cannot ever spontaneously spring into being from nothing more than the emotions of the nation, just how liberal and democratic is Britain today? The repeal of this law was a manifesto plank in the 2010 Liberal Democrat manifesto, and it would be a disgrace if the Coalition Government, with its laudable commitment to restoring Britain's civil liberties, brushed over the single worst breach.

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