Suella Braverman faces legal action over new anti-protest legislation

'The Home Secretary has side-lined Parliament to sneak in new legislation via the back door, despite not having the powers to do so.'

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is facing legal action over her latest draconian piece of legislation which attacks the right to protest.

The Tories intend to give the police more powers to impose restrictions on protests that cause ‘more than minor’ disruption.

Last week, the government launched its most brazen attack on the right to protest yet, with

amendments to the Public Order Act 1986 which would significantly lower the threshold for police intervention on protests, and it would empower officers to impose conditions – including changing timings, locations and routes, and imposing noise restrictions – on protests they believe “may” cause “more than minor” disruption.

That move was widely condemned, with Adam Wagner, a barrister with Doughty Street Chambers, telling the Guardian: “The threshold would be so low that it could lead to police imposing conditions on protests which would breach the rights of protesters.”

Now Liberty, the UK’ s largest civil liberties organisation, is taking legal action against the Home Secretary.

The group says that using secondary legislation to bring the powers into force ‘violates the constitutional principle of the separation of powers because the measures have already been rejected by Parliament’.

“By bringing in these powers, the Government has been accused of breaking the law to give the police ‘almost unlimited’ powers to shut down protests due to the vagueness of the new language”, it adds.

Katy Watts, Lawyer at Liberty, said: “We all want to live in a society where our Government is open, transparent and respects the rules. But, as we’ve seen today, the Home Secretary has not abided by any of these.

“The Home Secretary has side-lined Parliament to sneak in new legislation via the back door, despite not having the powers to do so.

“This has been done deliberately in a way which enables the Government to circumvent Parliament – who voted these same proposals down just a few months ago – and is a flagrant breach of the separation of powers that exist in our constitution.

“This is yet another power grab from the Government, as well as the latest in a long line of attacks on our right to protest, making it harder for the public to stand up for what they believe in.

“The wording of the Government’s new law is so vague that anything deemed ‘more than a minor’ disturbance could have restrictions imposed upon it.

“In essence, this gives the police almost unlimited powers to stop any protest the Government doesn’t agree with.”

Liberty says that it is launching its legal action to ensure that the government’s overreach is checked and that it is ‘not allowed to put itself above the law to do whatever it wants’.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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