The Daily Telegraph

No 10 defends republican protesters after arrests

Dissent ‘a keystone of our democracy’, says Downing Street after anti-royalists face police clampdown

- By Ben Riley-smith and Gareth Davies

DOWNING STREET has defended the right of republican protesters to voice dissent about the monarchy after interventi­ons from police to stop demonstrat­ors.

Labour MPS and campaign groups also voiced support for demonstrat­ors who want to protest peacefully during the period of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.

This weekend Police Scotland arrested a 22-year-old woman who held a sign which read “f--- imperialis­m, abolish monarchy” before the accession proclamati­on of King Charles III.

A protester holding a poster with the slogan “not my king” outside Parliament was also seen in video footage being spoken to by police. The Metropolit­an Police said she had been asked to move out of the way of gates required for vehicle access, and was not arrested or told to leave the area.

Yesterday a man who hurled abuse at the Duke of York, shouting “you’re a sick old man” during a procession through Edinburgh, was dragged away by crowd members.

The 22-year-old, wearing a blue Melbourne City FC hoodie, held his hands up as he lay in the street before a police officer picked him up from the ground. He was later arrested.

Symon Hill, another anti-monarchy protester, said he was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence on Sunday after shouting “who elected him?” during a formal reading of the proclamati­on of the accession in Carfax, Oxford.

The 45-year-old, who works parttime at the Peace Pledge Union, a pacifist organisati­on, was later de-arrested after refusing to be interviewe­d without a lawyer, and driven home by police.

Mr Hill said: “I’ll continue to say Charles is not the King, and that I don’t recognise him. I will probably protest at the coronation. It will be non-violent and directed at the institutio­n rather than personal insults at individual­s.”

During a briefing with reporters, Downing Street was asked whether it was appropriat­e that demonstrat­ors expressing republican views faced arrest. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “[This] is a period of national mourning for the vast, vast majority of the country but the fundamenta­l right to protest remains. It is a keystone of our democracy.”

Other political and campaign figures voiced support for the protesters.

Zarah Sultana, the Labour MP for Coventry South, tweeted: “No one should be arrested for just expressing republican views..”

Naomi Mcauliffe, of Amnesty Internatio­nal UK, was quoted in the Daily Record, saying: “Protest can be annoying – or even upsetting, to some – but it is absolutely essential for a rightsresp­ecting society.”

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