Anger at violent police arrest of peace protestor Brian Haw

By staff writers
January 15, 2008

Supporters of Brian Haw, the Christian peace protestor whose long-running Westminster vigil against the Iraq war led to the government banning demonstrations in the vicinity, have expressed outrage at his arrest yesterday.

They say that the police used excessive unnecessary and violent force, and pictures have appeared of a bloodied and shocked looking Mr Haw across the world's media.

Seven people were arrested, one of them anti-war campaigner Haw, during a demonstration outside Downing Street. Mr Haw, who has been encamped in Parliament Square since June 2001, was filming the protest when arrested.

The campaigner accused the police of using "violent and humiliating force" against him, but he said he would not be making a complaint, "as people can see what has happened with their own eyes, and those responsible are condemned by their own actions.

A police spokespersontold the BBC that 100 people took part in the march against the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA), which limits protests near Parliament.

Mr Haw said: "I was filming the students lying down in the road when one officer stepped forward, as I was walking back, and pushed the camera with his hand. It struck my face."

He said he was "dragged" by police into a police van, who pushed "my head close to the ground with my arms handcuffed high above my back".

The government is engaged in a consultation on the controversial law that bans unauthorised protest near Parliament - sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA).

The law has been used to harass and threaten Brian Haw and his supporters, say civil rights activists, and to criminalise those who refuse to ask for police permission in order to speak freely where it is most needed - outside Parliament.

The consultation contains what campaigners call "worrying new suggestions that threaten freedom of assembly across the whole country."

The deadline for making responses is this Thursday, 17 January 2008. More information is available at:

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