The Daily Telegraph

Lords rejects ban on slow march protesters

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor

PROTESTERS will be free to use slow marches to block roads after the House of Lords killed off the Government’s attempt to block the tactic.

Peers in the House of Lords voted by 254 to 240 to reject a government move to crack down on groups such as Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain which have brought chaos to Britain’s roads.

Last year, environmen­tal activists used a strategy of walking slowly along roads, bringing traffic to a near standstill. Police faced public anger for failing to intervene, after they said they were uncertain about how to act. They claimed they could only intervene if the disruption being caused was “serious” but that the definition was unclear.

The amendment to the Public Order Bill that was rejected by the Lords last night had been championed by Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, and aimed to clarify and broaden the definition of “serious disruption”.

It would have given police powers to shut down protests before such “serious disruption” took place, to require demonstrat­ors to move to the pavement and take action against them if they refused and to take account of the cumulative effect of a series of protests by a group rather than a single incident.

However, an alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers defeated the plans, with some arguing that it was an excessive extension of police powers, and others angry at the Government’s “undemocrat­ic” late introducti­on of the amendment after the Bill had cleared the Commons.

Because it was introduced in the Lords rather than the Commons, it cannot return to the lower House, so has been killed off for now.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Selfish, guerrilla protest tactics [impact] the law-abiding majority.

“The police specifical­ly asked the Government to clarify what constitute­s serious disruption in law, so that they can act more decisively to prevent misery for the public. It is extremely disappoint­ing the House of Lords rejected this important amendment.”

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