- Human rights lawyers say democracy workshop leaders and festival goers should be allowed in
- Eco-villagers issue statement to Surrey police
- Use of “Illegal rave” legislation inappropriate
Organisers of the Runnymede Festival for Democracy  have been advised by a company that specialises in human rights law that the police are exceeding their legal powers in refusing democracy workshop leaders and festival goers entry.
Police have been quoting section 63 of the Criminal Justice And Public Order Act 1994 . Under the Act the police need to be able to show that they reasonably believe “serious distress” would be caused, they cannot simply declare that would be the case.
However members of the Eco-village have met with both representatives of the council and local residents who were all happy for the event to go ahead. And at a meeting between eco-village residents and the council on Friday morning the police themselves agreed they were happy for the event to go ahead with the proviso that the music was turned down by 1pm.
Based on the legal advice they have received, the festival organisers hereby issue the following statement to the Surrey Police:
Runnymede Eco-Village statement to Surrey Police:
“We have consulted with local residents and the council. There has been no opposition and in fact considerable support. We would be grateful if you would clarify why you appear to consider that the event would cause “serious distress” to the inhabitants of the locality.
“We consider that the event is likely to give no distress and it has considerable local support. In the light of this we consider that you are exercising your powers unlawfully. Members of the public and people who we have invited to take part in the festival have incurred both considerable time and expense in travelling here and it is not right that they should be turned away on false legal grounds.
“We ask that you take immediate steps to allow people to attend and for the event to proceed.
“In the absence of this we will urgently seek further legal advice in relation to the remedies available to all affected by your unlawful actions. It is particularly sad and inappropriate that the police are choosing to exceed their legal powers to prevent an event celebrating the importance of democracy and the rule of law.”
Notes for editors:
1. For further information see previous press releases here: https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/category/press/