Peter Tatchell has said the right to protest is “one of the hallmarks of a free society” as he welcomed a court ruling that a London-wide police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests was unlawful.
The human rights activist told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright that the police “often want to find a quick, easy solution” and that today’s ruling was a “great victory for democracy”.
He said: “There are sometimes protests in London that I totally disagree with but I will defend the right of those people to protest.
“I am sometimes a bit annoyed because I get inconvenienced but that is the price you pay for a democracy.”
A London High Court today ruled that the Metropolitan Police acted unlawfully in using Section 14 of the Public Order Act to impose a blanket ban on protests linked to the climate activist group during its “Autumn Uprising”.
The Met said it was “disappointed” by the ruling but would “carefully consider” it.
It had claimed that the 10-day demonstrations that took place last month had become “unlawful” because of major disruption, such as obstructing highways.
The force has said that the cost policing the rallies currently stands at just over £24 million. More than 35 police forces provided support to the Met’s operation, during which officers made a total of 1,828 arrests.
But Mr Tatchell said that the inconvenience was “justified”.
He told talkRADIO: “The climate emergency has such potential damage to our society; to individuals and society across the board that protest is justified and has been incredibly effective in raising public and political awareness.”