Free Speech, Arrests and the Monarchy
Concerns have been raised among free speech campaigners, civil liberty groups and MPs, after several protestors were arrested at separate events held to commemorate the Queen’s death and proclaim King Charles III.
The right to protest is enshrined into British law via the Human rights Act 1998, found under Article 11: Freedom of Assembly and Association. The anti-monarchy protests in question ranged from heckling to sign holding. One sign-holder from Oxford was handcuffed and led away, but was later released and taken home, claiming that he hadn’t been given any clear indication of why he had been arrested.
In response, Labour MP, Zarah Sultana tweeted: “No one should be arrested for just expressing republican views. Extraordinary – and shocking – that this needs saying.”The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Act 2022, which received royal assent on the 28th of April, abolished the common law offence of public nuisance and replaced it with the statutory offence. The legislation aimed to provide more clarity to the police and potential offenders, by giving clear notice of what conduct is forbidden.A police spokesperson later said the man was arrested on the suspicion of a public order offence under section five of the Public Order Act.