Summary of IPCC Complaint re My Arrest during Xi Jinping's UK Visit
I was arrested on 21 October 2015 outside Mansion House when protesting peacefully during the visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. I stood still holding aloft two A4-sized placards, reading ‘End Autocracy’ and ‘Democracy Now’, when four or five police officers forcibly took hold of me and pushed me for a long distance until I was out of sight of the cavalcade of the Chinese President.
I was arrested and detained by the City of London Police to prevent a breach of the peace. While in police custody, I was further arrested by the Metropolitan Police for conspiracy to commit a section 5 Public Order Act offence. My home was searched later that night and a number of electronic devices belonging to me and my partner were seized.
I was released on bail on the following day, after nearly 24 hours’ detention. The three conditions attached to my bail were all connected with the Chinese President and for reasons “[t]o prevent further offences and to prevent further harassment of the victim”. I was advised on 28 October that no further action was being taken against me.
In the early hours of 29 October I received a message from Google saying “Warning: We believe that attackers backed by certain states may be attempting to compromise your account or computer” (Google has since confirmed that this message is genuine). My computers were returned to me by the police a few hours later that same day.
I have submitted a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), alleging unlawful police conducts in nine major areas: 1) arrests; 2) detention; 3) denial of telephone call; 4) search of premises and seizure of property; 5) accessing electronic equipment/sharing of the contents; 6) taking of photograph, DNA and fingerprints; 7) bail conditions; 8) use of force; and 9) planning/policy.
The unlawful arrests, first by the City of London Police and further by the Metropolitan Police, effectively violated my right to protest. Lawrence Barker, my lawyer of Bindmans solicitors, pointed out in a Guardian interview, “While my client’s initial arrest and detention for breach of the peace effectively prevented him from lawfully protesting further that day, it provided the police with no powers to stop him from doing so during the remainder of the Chinese president’s visit,” and “[h]is arrest later that night for conspiracy to commit a public order offence – for which there was seemingly never any evidence – appears to have been carried out precisely to stop him protesting any further.”
As a widespread crackdown on human rights lawyers and campaigners is being carried out in China, I am particularly concerned about the seizure of my computers and phones. The Metropolitan Police has admitted taking a copy of contacts on my phone but denied accessing my computers. My computer equipment was seized for the purpose of investigating the allegations against me, but the investigation was discontinued due to “lack of evidence”, despite, as the police asserted, no attempts having been made to secure that evidence by way of examination of the computers. However, it was during the time that my electronic equipment was being held by the Metropolitan Police that Google issued its warning. The evidence suggests that either the Metropolitan Police were attempting to access my computer, contrary to what they have stated; or alternatively, that around that time information had been supplied by the Metropolitan Police to some other state body such that they might do so.
There is strong evidence that lawful protest is being restricted not only by way of operational decisions taken on any given day, but by way of prior police planning – seemingly in effect as a prerequisite of a visit by the Chinese President. The actions of any senior officer in drawing up and implementing such plans for that purpose would plainly be unlawful.
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