A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.
The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.
But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.
Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.
The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.
The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.
During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.
Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.
Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.
“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”
The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.
During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.
Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.
It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.
“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”
The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.
BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford
This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.
But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.
Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.
So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.
If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.
Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.
Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.
He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.
“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.
“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”
What does Extinction Rebellion want?
Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.
The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.
London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton has welcomed a critical report on the Grenfell tower fire, but said that the building “failed spectacularly”.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the LFB and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.
A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.
Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.
He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.
O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.
‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’
After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.
He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.
The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.
In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.
The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.
However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.
Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.
“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.
“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.
She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.
During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.
There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.
Extinction Rebellion activists are continuing protests despite a London-wide ban by police.
The group says it has taken initial steps towards a judicial review of the ban. Lawyers and politicians have also criticised the move.
Meanwhile climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning.
A government spokeswoman said protests “should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives”.
Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building.
Activists have also been arrested on Millbank outside MI5’s headquarters, where a small group had gathered. Two men briefly sat in the middle of the road before being moved by officers.
The Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square on Monday evening following the announcement of new restrictions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, which required activists to stop their protests in central London by 21:00 BST or risk arrest.
The force said it decided to impose the rules after “continued breaches” of conditions which limited the demonstrations to Trafalgar Square.
Extinction Rebellion said it had taken the “first steps” towards a judicial review of the Met’s “disproportionate and unprecedented attempt to curtail peaceful protest”.
“Our lawyers have delivered a ‘Letter before Action’ to the Met and asked for an immediate response,” a statement read.
Tobias Garnett, a human rights lawyer working for the movement, said the letter warned police to withdraw the order, giving them a deadline of 1430 BST to respond, or else the group would file a claim in the High Court.
“We will be looking for an expedited hearing either today or tomorrow morning,” he added.
The Met confirmed it had received “pre-action judicial review correspondence” alleging Human Rights Act breaches.
“The letter will be reviewed by the Met’s Directorate of Legal Services, and we will respond to the claimant in due course,” a statement read, adding it would be “inappropriate” to comment further.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “seeking further information” about the decision to impose the ban and why it was necessary.
“I believe the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the government said the UK was “already taking world-leading action to combat climate change”.
The statement added: “While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that “supporting our [police] is vital” and accused the Labour Party of supporting “law breakers”.
‘Overreach of powers’
Meanwhile, lawyers have also questioned whether the ban by police is legal.
Anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham QC said the move was “a huge overreach” of police powers, while human rights lawyer Adam Wagner described it as “draconian and extremely heavy-handed”.
Mr Wagner added in a tweet: “We have a right to free speech under article 10 and to free assembly under article 11 of the (annex to the) Human Rights Act. These can only be interfered with if the interference is lawful and proportionate. I think the police may have gone too far here.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “This ban is completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.”
Allan Hogarth, of Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the ban was “an unlawful restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.
A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by Extinction Rebellion, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests were due to last two weeks and have led to more than 1,400 arrests.
The Met said there had been 1,457 arrests by 08:45 BST on Tuesday, in connection with the nine days of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under the Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a human rights court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to the threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
A shopkeeper was murdered at his newsagents in north-west London by a “one-man crimewave”.
Alex Gunn, 31, stabbed 54-year-old Ravi Katharkamar to death inside his shop in Pinner at 06:00 GMT on 24 March.
The Old Bailey heard after Gunn attacked the father-of-two, he stole £100 and went on to burgle two homes. He drove off in a car he had stolen.
Gunn was found guilty of murder, burglary, theft and robbery. He will be sentenced on Friday.
Vignarani Aiyathirai, Mr Katharkamar’s widow, said the thought her “kind, humorous and loving” husband was killed over £100, “haunted” her.
“I hate the fact he was alone, that I was not there to hold or comfort him, tend to his wounds or tell him I loved him and that all would be OK,” she added in a statement read out in court.
“I constantly wonder if the man who did this will ever realise or care that he has left such a huge trail of devastation within my family.”
The attack, which was captured on the shop’s CCTV, showed Gunn holding a knife to Mr Katharkamar’s throat and grappling with him before stabbing him in the chest.
Mr Katharkamar was found by a jogger who called the emergency services but they pronounced him dead at the scene.
Gunn, of Pinner Grove, Pinner, will also be sentenced for driving while disqualified, which he had previously admitted.
Describing Gunn as a “one-man crimewave”, prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones QC told jurors he was also responsible for a string of burglaries and thefts to fund his drug habit.
Det Ch Insp Simon Stancombe said the two men could not be more different.
“Ravi was a warm and loving father and husband. A man who worked long hours to support his young family and run his shop in the heart of the local community in Pinner,” he said.
“Alex Gunn, on the other hand, is a career criminal who has spent much of his adult life preying on other people.
“Alex Gunn is an odious, vile and dangerous individual who I am pleased to say will now be in prison for a very long time.”
The Football Association is investigating an allegation of racial discrimination during Saturday’s Championship game between Charlton Athletic and Leeds United.
It is understood the incident involved Leeds goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and Charlton forward Jonathan Leko.
Referee John Brooks is believed to have included the allegation in his match report after Charlton’s 1-0 win.
The FA will now speak to both clubs and the players allegedly involved.
A statement from the Addicks said: “Charlton Athletic can confirm that an allegation of racial abuse directed at Jonathan Leko by an opposing player during Saturday’s game against Leeds United was reported to referee John Brooks.
“The club will support Leko throughout the process and will not be making any further comment until the investigation is concluded.”
Leeds said in a statement they were aware of the allegation and would be “working with the FA during their investigation”.
Anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out said it would also offer its support 20-year-old Leko.
Under rules introduced for the 2019-20 season, the minimum suspension for a player found guilty of an aggravated breach of the FA’s discrimination rules will be six matches, which can be increased depending on any additional aggravating factors.
A man accused of murdering a 21-year-old by slashing his neck in a bar has told his trial he believed his victim was “possibly” armed.
Shane O’Brien, 31, fatally stabbed Josh Hanson after a brief conversation in RE Bar in Hillingdon, west London, in October 2015, jurors were told.
Mr O’Brien, who denies murder, told the Old Bailey he thought he saw “something shiny” being passed to Mr Hanson.
He previously told jurors he feared Mr Hanson was “ready to attack” him.
Giving evidence on Monday, Mr O’Brien said Mr Hanson “started being very aggressive, by his facial expressions”.
He added: “Personally I felt like he was ready to attack me.”
In cross-examination on Tuesday, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC asked him: “At the time did you see Mr Hanson with a weapon?”
Mr O’Brien replied: “I didn’t see him obviously with a weapon.
“He possibly could have had a weapon and I had seen him passed something shiny.
“In my mind, when I went up to approach him I felt under threat and possibly he could have had a weapon.”
Jurors have been shown video of the moment Mr Hanson was attacked.
The council worker was stabbed in front of his girlfriend shortly after 01:00 BST after the bar lights came on for closing time and suffered a 37cm (14.5in) wound from his left ear to the right side of his chest, the court has heard.
Mr O’Brien’s trial has been told he accepted he used the blade to cause Mr Hanson’s death but was not “criminally responsible” because he did not mean to kill him.
The trial continues.
Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell earned West Ham their second successive home win against Manchester United, who remain without a league win on their travels since February.
Yarmolenko opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, sending a low finish past David de Gea following patient build-up play involving Mark Noble and Felipe Anderson.
Cresswell sealed all three points for the Hammers in the second half with a superb free-kick into the top right-hand corner.
Chances were at a premium in a cagey first half at London Stadium, with Noble’s deflected effort from Pablo Fornals’ free-kick the closest either team came to a breakthrough before Yarmolenko’s strike.
Juan Mata should have levelled for the visitors two minutes into the second half but failed to hit the target after connecting well with Andreas Pereira’s low cross.
The result lifts West Ham above the Red Devils in the table, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side remain three points off the top four.
More to follow.
Thousands of people are protesting across the UK, with pupils leaving schools and workers downing tools as part of a global “climate strike” day.
Millions are taking part around the world with rallies in British cities including Glasgow, Manchester and London, urging “climate justice”.
Students let off alarm bells at 13:00 BST to “raise the alarm” for the climate.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said their voices were “being heard”.
However, he said he could not “endorse children leaving school” to take part.
Jake Woodier, campaign co-ordinator at UK Student Climate Network said: “We understand it’s simply not feasible for many employees to take a day off to participate in a strike, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a voice.”
Demonstrations have also been organised in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Brighton, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Birmingham.
Sebastian, a pupil from John Stainer Community School in Brockley, south-east London, said he joined the protests to help fight global warming.
“They, the government, don’t understand that we’re going to go through it and they are not,” he said.
Eight-year-old Sohan and Nayan, five, also from south-east London joined protesters with their mother, Celine.
Sohan said: “We want to save our planet and we hope that marching will help.”
Student Jessica Ahmed, 16, emailed her school to warn that she would be joining the protests instead of being in class.
Speaking at a protest in Westminster, Miss Ahmed, of Barnet, north London, said: “If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need – and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognised the world was changing in a negative way – then I would not have to be skipping school.”
Dozens of pupils from John Stainer Community Primary school in Brockley, south-east London, are among those taking part in the capital.
Head teacher Sue Harte said the school had decided to take part because “climate change is clearly a big issue” and “children need to know that they have a right to democratic protest”.
Hundreds of climate activists – including children in school uniform – have staged a mass “die in” in Belfast, where they lay down in the city centre.
One Extinction Rebellion activist, Lorraine Montague from County Tyrone, was dressed as a swan to highlight the threat of climate change to wildlife.
She said: “Our climate is at crisis point and the government is not doing anything about it. We have to support the young people, they are the ones who started this strike.
“We are grieving for our future. I don’t feel happy about having children the way our climate is going.”
Extinction Rebellion ‘solidarity’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has addressed the group’s rally outside Westminster.
Extinction Rebellion, which organised its own climate and environment protests in the UK earlier this year, said it stood “in solidarity” with those taking part.
It added that its members were joining the strikes and holding their own events, including a choir and “kids’ space” in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, and outside King’s College London.
Some trade unions, including the TUC, the University and College Union and Unite, are supporting members who take part in the “strikes”.
Co-operative Bank says it is supporting workers who want to join the action, while US clothing brand Patagonia is closing all of its stores and taking out adverts to back the protesters.
The action follows earlier school strikes inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.
The teenager, from Sweden, is set to join a rally planned in New York, where world leaders will meet at the UN next week to discuss climate change.
Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast that although he could not support children leaving school, he did support “their energy, their creativity, and the fact that they have completely mastered these issues and take them very seriously”.
The prime minister was visiting the maternity ward at Whipps Cross Hospital when he was approached by a father.
The man, who is also a Labour activist, told Boris Johnson that the ward was understaffed and the NHS was being destroyed.
A spokesman for the prime minister later said Mr Johnson was visiting public services to see for himself the reality of the situation.
They added the prime minister was “not going to hide away from those circumstances when he goes on these visits, and so obviously is keen to talk to people and empathise and see what he can do to help.
“It’s also a reminder of why exactly he is so keen to make the NHS a priority.”