December 11, 2023

Anti-monarchy protesters are suing the Metropolitan Police over arrests on the day of King Charles’s Coronation.

Graham Smith, the head of Republic and five other members of the campaign group were arrested in central London just hours before the procession began.

They say they had discussed the protest with senior Met officers for months, however on the day itself they were swiftly arrested on suspicion of going equipped to lock on, a measure protesters use to make it harder for police to move them, as they had luggage straps to secure their placards.

Footage of dozens of officers pouncing on the activists on May 6 sparked public outrage, with Scotland Yard chiefs hauled before MPs where they insisted they did not bow to political pressure.

Mr Smith, who was held for more than 14 hours, has now revealed he has applied for a judicial review of the decision to detain him and is demanding that the police say sorry.

“We expect a full apology and public acknowledgement that the Met got it wrong,” the Republic chief executive said.

“There were no grounds for detaining us, searching us or arresting us. It was an appalling attack on the rights of peaceful protesters.”

He claimed he was physically prevented from calling the group’s designated liaison officer when he was stopped and arrested on the day of the Coronation. His group wants the monarchy abolished and the King replaced with an elected head of state.

The group were detained after new legislation came into effect days before the event that created new offences of locking on or going equipped to lock on under the Public Order Act. On May 8 they were told no further action would be taken.

Mr Smith wants the Met to admit the arrests were unlawful and is seeking damages and costs.

The force came under criticism for heavy-handedness over arrests around the Coronation, with three workers on Westminster council’s safety scheme Night Stars also arrested because they had kits containing rape alarms.

Royal superfan Alice Chambers was also held for 13 hours after being arrested, she believes simply because she was standing next to Just Stop Oil protesters on The Mall. Her case was referred to the police watchdog.

The Met Police said: “We can confirm that a Judicial Review Claim has been issued and it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing proceedings.”

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