The Sunday Telegraph

Anti-Hamas protester defeats police ban

Judge says strict bail conditions imposed to prevent dissident going to marches were too harsh


A JUDGE has told the Metropolit­an Police it cannot stop an Iranian dissident who displays a sign branding Hamas as terrorists from attending pro-Palestinia­n protests.

Under strict bail conditions imposed by the Metropolit­an Police, Niyak Ghorbani, who has been arrested three times during his counter-protests, would have been prevented from going near any central London demonstrat­ions relating to Israel and the Gaza conflict.

But a judge has now thrown out the conditions, ruling that they were neither proportion­ate nor necessary. The conditions had been imposed after 38-year-old Mr Ghorbani was arrested for a third time during a pro-Palestinia­n march this month.

He has become well known for holding up a sign stating “Hamas Is Terrorist” while standing alongside the route of the regular protests being held in London against Israel’s retaliatio­n to Hamas’s Oct 7 attacks.

He has been manhandled and attacked by some protesters, but insists he is doing nothing wrong in pointing out that Hamas is a proscribed terror group under UK law.

Police attempted to impose strict bail conditions preventing him from attending future demonstrat­ions after he was arrested and accused of refusing to stand where instructed during a protest against Israel on April 5.

He was not displaying his banner at the time, but was working as a video reporter. A hoodie he was wearing with the same slogan was concealed by his zipped up jacket.

Following his arrest, he was handed a sheet outlining his bail conditions as being “not to attend any protest relating to Israel or Palestine in the City of Westminste­r”.

He was told the condition would remain in place until at least July, when he is due to return to Charing Cross police station to learn whether he faces any charges.

On Friday, Mr Ghorbani went to Westminste­r magistrate­s’ court to appeal against the police action.

Jessie Smith, his barrister, of Doughty Street Chambers, told the court the Met had been wrong to impose the bail condition.

Pointing out that no further action had been taken by police following Mr Ghorbani’s previous two arrests, she said: “We have here someone who has held up a flag with a legal statement written on it.

“A condition of this kind at this precise time, imposed for three months, and given that he does not have a criminal record, is not proportion­ate. It is wholly disproport­ionate.”

Deputy District Judge Lisa Towell agreed and ordered the ban to be lifted.

She told Mr Ghorbani: “In these circumstan­ces I’m not satisfied that the condition is either necessary or proportion­ate. At this stage I’m persuaded to remove the condition.”

Mr Ghorbani said he was “overjoyed” by the court’s ruling and vowed to attend future pro-Palestine protests and continue displaying his banner.

He told The Telegraph: “It was fantastic to hear the judge say that she disagreed with what the police did. That means I can carry on with my protest against terrorism.

“The police wanted to show their power to me, but they should be showing their power to the protesters who shout slogans in support of terrorist organisati­ons like Hamas.

“We live in a democracy, with free speech, but the police were trying to prevent my freedom. I’m doing this for the British people, for the Iranians and for the Israelis, for people who live here peacefully.”

Mr Ghorbani, who wore a pendant in court with an inscriptio­n calling for all Israeli hostages to be released, urged others to take up the mantle of opposition to Hamas and lend their support to pro-Israeli counter-demonstrat­ions.

Yesterday, Mr Ghorbani joined Israel supporters in Hastings, where he held up his banner as local pro-Palestinia­n activists marched past.

The Campaign Against Antisemiti­sm (CAA), which funded Mr Ghorbani’s appeal, condemned the Met’s response to his protests.

A spokesman for CAA said: “All Niyak Ghorbani wants to do is point out to anti-Israel marchers that Hamas is a terrorist organisati­on under UK law.

“Instead of addressing the threat that the marchers pose, the police have tried to impose draconian measures on Mr Ghorbani.

“If only the police were half as concerned with the marchers as with people like Mr Ghorbani. How did British policing get so topsy-turvy?”

The Metropolit­an Police were contacted for comment.

 ?? ?? Niyak Ghorbani said it was ‘fantastic’ that he could continue with his protest
Niyak Ghorbani said it was ‘fantastic’ that he could continue with his protest

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