Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fortnum & Mason Protesters - Write to your MP.

Two of my friends were arrested for peacefully protesting in Fortnum & Mason. They are not UKUncut members. They decided to occupy F&M due to the large scale tax avoidance which the company allegedly operates.

The arrest and detention of 145 peaceful protesters in my view amounts to an abuse of process. This can clearly be seen in the footage obtained by the Guardian. Where the protesters were lied to by a Senior Police Office who gave them an express assurance, that the police wanted to make it "clear and safe" that the protesters would be allowed to leave the building. The officer stated that she wasn't aware that people would be detained outside. Such abuse by the police should not be tolerated.

I would therefore urge my readers (including the 100's of you that I have helped in your fight against TFL's prosecution policy) to please write to your MP. The letter is below. It will take a few minutes of your time.


Your MPs details can be found here:

Information about the official campaign is available here:

Please 'like' their facebook page if you haven't already.




I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned by the manner in which the Metropolitan Police handled the recent demonstration in London against the government cuts to public services.

On the 26th March, 145 people were arrested during a peaceful demonstration against tax avoidance, then held for up to 36 hours in custody, and then charged with Aggravated Trespass.

It is my belief that the prosecution of these individuals is a waste of CPS, police and tax-payers' time and money, and is a threat to the democratic right to peaceful protest in the UK, through criminalising non-violent protesters.

I am also appalled at the misrepresentation of all those arrested on the 26th March by the Home Secretary and other Government Ministers. Those arrested have been described as “violent” and “thugs” which, given that 92% of those arrested were charged with aggravated trespass and are not suspected of committing violent offences, amounts to political manipulation and a grievous insult to the character of those arrested.

I am particularly concerned that:

  • the 145 peaceful protesters who were detained within Fortnum and Mason for their own safety, and whose protest action was described as “sensible” and “non-violent” action by the ranking police officer present on that day, were told they would be free to leave the store when the police deemed it safe to do so, only to be 'kettled' and arrested immediately following their departure;

  • those who were arrested, most of whom were held in police custody for 20-22 hours, had their phones and other personal belongings seized and were woken in the middle of the night to have their clothing seized, were treated disproportionately badly given the minor crime for which they were later charged;

  • these arrests and the media and political furore that surround them amount to political motivation designed to: gather intelligence on UKUncut (a network of peaceful protesters); intimidate those arrested (some of whom are as young as 14) to prevent them from taking part in future protests; take pre-emptive action to prevent peaceful and legal protest over the weekend of the Royal Wedding and Mayday, which all arrestees have now been prevented from carrying out following the implementation of bail conditions; and, to attempt to justify providing the police with further powers with which to stifle/disrupt legitimate protest.

I, like many others, have strong objections to the scale and depth of current cuts to public services, and whether you have sympathy or not, I hope that you support, and will defend, the right of individuals to express these objections through peaceful protest, without fear of criminalisation, and oppose the politically motivated prosecution of those arrested at Fortnum and Masons on the 26th March.

I would be interested in your view on this issue and grateful if you could raise my concerns with the relevant Ministers, and make representations on my behalf to the Crown Prosecution Service, and ask that the Government rethink these prosecutions, and their sustained assault on the right to peaceful process.

Yours sincerely,



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take pre-emptive action to prevent peaceful and legal protest over the weekend of the Royal Wedding and Mayday.
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