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
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.”