Campaign group Republic has cast doubt on the sincerity of the Met Police's suggestion they may apologise to protesters arrested on the day of the coronation. The comments were made today during a meeting of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee. Republic also says they are still waiting for a reply from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, following a request for a meeting.
Speaking for Republic, Graham Smith said today:
"They continue to defend what was palpably an unlawful arrest of eight peaceful protesters. They continue to suggest that the nature of the event gave them lawful grounds to have a lower tolerance of such protest."
"Until they understand what they did wrong, and until there is significant and sincere redress for their actions we cannot trust the police not to behave in the same manner again."
"It should not take a lengthy inquiry to know the Met police got it badly wrong. While we welcome the undertaking to apologise, their statements to date raise doubts about their sincerity."
"Some of those statements from the Met Police are as follows:
- They have claimed there was intelligence that prompted the arrests of eight of Republic’s team, yet we know no such intelligence existed. We know that the intelligence referred to relates to other protest groups and that there could not possibly have been any intelligence suggesting Republic had any means or intent to break the law.
- They claim this was a fast-moving situation, yet we were stopped and arrested at 7am, four hours before the coronation procession. They had ample time to call the liaison officers and clarify the situation. We asked them to do that, they refused and made no effort to engage with those we'd previously had meetings with. This was not the conduct of a couple of officers who spotted us unloading a van, we were immediately descended upon and surrounded by large numbers of police officers, officers who showed no interest in what we had to say or who we were.
- The behaviour of officers throughout the day, in which they sought to obstruct, disrupt and diminish our protest, shows there was a wider intent to intervene for the sake of protecting the image of the coronation.
- They have claimed we were in possession of straps capable of locking on, straps DAC Twist described to the Home Affairs Select Committee as ‘heavy duty’. These were cheap and flimsy straps available in any airport that are not capable of locking on. We told the arresting officers their purpose and they weren’t interested.
- They have claimed officers on the ground were not aware of the four months of discussion we had with the Met, yet we also know that’s not true. Not only did we tell them at the time, and told them the name of the Superintendent we had met twice, we also know that liaison officers had briefed the Bronze Commander on the ground, and that the arresting officer spoke to the Bronze Commander on the day.
- They have suggested that our detention was extended in part due to the unavailability of our solicitor, yet we know our solicitor was at the police station four to five hours prior to the first interview being conducted."
"We have written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan asking for a meeting, and as yet we’ve not had a reply. We hope we will have the opportunity to chat with him so that he is not misled further by the Met police on the nature of what happened."
"We remain of the view that this was a pre-meditated action and not a consequence of mistakes. If it is the result of error then those offices involved from the most senior to the arresting officer must face consequences, as it would be a matter of gross incompetence."
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