Arms fair security faces legal challenge

Civil rights campaigners are criticising the police’s use of anti-terrorism powers to protect an arms fair in London.

The civil rights group, Liberty, announced that it is to seek a judicial review of the Metropolitan Police’s decision to evoke anti-terrorism laws against protestors.

The police have so far made 67 arrests since September 1st at the international arms fair which is being held at the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands.

New Scotland Yard announced that 16 arrests were made yesterday.

Six men and a woman were arrested for a sit down protest that obstructed the road to the ExCel centre and two women and a man was arrested for throwing red paint at a walkway at Custom House DLR.

One man was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, namely a flick knife, outside the arms fair.

DAC Andy Trotter commented: ‘Today has been a successful policing operation and I am pleased with how it’s gone so far. We have made some arrests but the majority of protestors have been demonstrating lawfully and peacefully.’

Liberty complains that the anti-terrorism laws were not intended to be used against legal, peaceful protests.

Liberty solicitor Mona Arshi commented, ‘The Home Secretary gave a clear undertaking to the House of Commons that section 44 notices would only be used where there is good reason to suspect terrorist activity.’

‘The people in docklands are legitimate demonstrators and it is quite shocking they are being treated as potential terrorists. We will do everything in our power to protect the right of every citizen to peacefully protest.’

Liberty has also instructed its lawyers to represent anyone who is arrested at the protests.

Campaigners have been protesting claiming that the show is trading in death and nations attending the conference include those who use oppression. They also point out that a number of attending states have debt problems which should be dealt with before spending money on weapon systems.