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GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE have agreed to pay compensation to “Priti Fascist” activist Liam Geary Baulch, who was arrested outside the Tory Party conference last year.
Mr Geary Baulch attended the conference on October 5 2021 to conduct a solitary protest against plans by then home secretary Priti Patel to increase police powers relating to non-violent protest.
He planned to hold up a small sign that read “Priti Fascist” and tried to take up position about 30 metres beyond the police cordon surrounding the conference venue but was ordered by officers to move to a designated protest area.
The officers failed to provide Mr Geary Baulch with any satisfactory legal basis for their request, so he refused to move.
In response, police pushed him against a wall, handcuffed him behind his back, and then arrested him for what they said was a breach of the peace.
Mr Geary Baulch was held in a police van and driven to a tram station away from the city centre where he was then released.
He hired ITN solicitors to challenge the lawfulness of the arrest by the Greater Manchester force.
The power to arrest for breach of the peace can only be exercised where an officer reasonably suspects that the arrest is necessary to prevent imminent or ongoing harm to a person or (in their presence) their property. Refusal to leave an area is not in itself a breach of the peace.
As a result of his legal challenge, the force has now agreed to compensate Mr Geary Baulch for his arrest and pay his legal costs.
He said: “Recent weeks have seen police harass and arrest peaceful protesters, including over simply holding a placard. Some simply held blank signs, which was enough to be harassed by police if not arrested.
“As [Home Secretary] Suella Braverman makes her speech to conference almost a year later, as groups across the UK take part in strikes, occupations and non-payment campaigns, it’s crucial to continue defending the right to protest. ”
Kevin Blowe from Netpol, which campaigns against violent and excessive policing, said: “The government’s draconian Public Order Bill will, if it becomes law, simply make matters worse.
“There has never been a more important time to defend the right to dissent.”
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