ASBOs used against protesters

The government is currently attempting to set a precedent for the use of ASBOs and other anti-social behaviour legislation against protesters.

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Similarly, a Home Office consultation document, entitled Modernising Police Powers to Meet Community Needs (August 2004, pdf), set in motion further restrictions against the act of protesting outside homes.


Gregg & Natasha Avery, Heather Nicholson & Gavin Medd-Hall - Four animal rights activists jailed for blackmailing companies linked to Huntingdon Life Sciences were given indefinite ASBOs banning them from traveling to the firms' offices. Three other activists were given five-year orders (January 2009) Update: Gavin Medd-Hall has had his lifelong ASBO overturned by the Court of appeal (December 2009)

DSEi arms fair 2005 - In May 2006 a total of ten protesters who had obstructed a train at Canning Town station in the Docklands in 2005 (a station close to where the arms fair is held) were given ASBOs. In September a Court of Appeal judge quashed these orders arguing that their actions were more likely to cause frustration than harassment, alarm or distress. He added: "The purpose of such an order is not to punish the offender but to protect persons from further anti-social acts by them" (September 2006)

Michael Downes - A 44-year-old fathers' rights campaigner, who smashed an egg on the head of Minister Ruth Kelly, given a five-year order prohibiting him from entering a public building for which members of the public do not have permission, climbing on any structures over one metre in height without permission and placing banners or posters or any signs on public structures (August 2006)

Edward Atkinson - A 74-year-old anti-abortion campaigner given a five-year order (May 2006)

Cotswold Hunt - Anti-hunt protesters have investigated the possibility of using orders to prevent fox hunting. The area's anti-social behaviour coordinator said: "People might say this is not what the antisocial behaviour legislation is for, but the act says it covers actions which cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons" (March 2006)

David Pearce - A 52-year-old given has been banned from contacting anyone at the Barnsley Chronicle for distributing leaflets about the paper or any of its staff until 2010. Pearce had been campaigning against the paper's court reporter. As The Guardian says: "The irony of this case is that Mr Pearce's attempts to name and shame a member of the press has resulted in the press being in a position to name and shame him." (April 2006)

Lindis Percy - Police and the Ministry of Defence applied for an ASBO against this 63-year-old peace campaigner after she was convicted of five offences relating to her protests outside a US listening base at Menworth Hill. While fortunate enough to have her application fall within the 1.4% that are turned down on average (perhaps because her case received a great deal of publicity), the district judge imposed an eight week 8pm to 6am curfew and made her the first peace protester in the country to be electronically tagged. He added: "I am firmly of the view courts ought not to allow anti-social behaviour orders to be used as a club to beat down the expression of legitimate comments and dissemination of views of matters of public concern" (May 2005) Update: Percy has since challenged North Yorkshire Police to repeat the harmful allegations made in the application for the ASBO outside a court of law so that she can "bring libel proceedings to vindicate my reputation which your force has chosen to wrongly besmirch by innuendo, spin and inaccuracy." She believes it to be "unacceptable and indeed outrageous that anything could be said against someone without evidence." Percy also had a freedom of information application to see the documents submitted in the request for her order refused (July 2006)

Sarah Gisbourne - A 39-year-old animal rights activist jailed for six-and-a-half years and given a two years "CRASBO" effective upon her release (March 2005)

Melvyn Drage - A council tenant who put anti-war leaflets through 50 of his neighbours' letterboxes has been threatened with eviction and given an "anti-social behaviour interview" with the threat of being given an Asbo (February 2005)

Heather Nicholson - A 38-year-old animal rights activist served a five-year order banning her from going within 500 metres of a number of the country's largest animal research laboratories. The ASBO also prevents her from contacting the owners, shareholders or employees of any of these companies (January 2005) Nicholson was jailed for four months in March for breaching her order (March 2006)

Kate Jones - This animal rights activist has been banned from contacting the owners, shareholders and employees of any firm connected with Huntingdon Life Sciences (an animal-testing company) and Yamanouchi (a pharmaceutical firm) having admitted to committing aggravated trespass (September 2004)

DSEi Protesters - Two protesters and a baby were prevented from holding a banner and handing out leaflets outside Reed Exhibitions, the organiser of DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment International); the world's largest arms fair. Police were eventually forced to apply for and subsequently issue a temporary ASBO to order their dispersal and ban them from Richmond for 24 hours (August 2004)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign - Whilst demonstrating outside Caterpillar's financial offices in Solihull, on the 25th of June, at the bulldozer manufacturer's continued sale of machinery to the Israeli military, nine people were arrested under the Anti Social Behaviour Act for failing to provide their names and addresses. They were held for 18 hours in a police cell and not allowed to have a private phone conversation with a lawyer. The trial will take place in January where the government hopes to set a precedent for the use of anti-social behaviour legislation in this field (June 2004)

David Edwards - A political protester who has campaigned for many years to Rugby council, over issues such as health and safety, was eventually served an interim order. Deemed to have breached it and subsequently arrested he is currently in prison staging a hunger strike (June 2004)

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