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Chief Constable of The Bedfordshire Police v (1) Golding; (2) Fransen [2015] EWHC 1875 (QB)

In Chief Constable of The Bedfordshire Police v (1) Golding; (2) Fransen [2015] EWHC 1875 (QB) the question was whether or not leaders of “Britain First” (“BF”), should be banned from entering Luton for their march on 27 June 2015 (“the Day”), under the Anti-Social, Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The application was made following an earlier demonstration that month in Luton, a town with a large Muslim population. BF had carried a banner stating “no more mosques”, had undertaken “mosque invasions” by entering mosques and Islamic cultural centres without invitation, had made provocative, offensive and threatening gestures and remarks including “go back to your own country” and caused alarm and distress.

Knowles J had granted an interim injunction prohibiting BF on the Day from:

Entering a mosque/Islamic Cultural Centre/private grounds without prior written invitation;

Publishing, distributing, displaying any words/images likely to stir up religious and/or racial hatred;

Using threatening, abusive/insulting words/behaviour thereby causing harassment, alarm/distress;

Carrying/displaying any sign/banner in Luton on the Day stating “no more mosques” or similar words.

In addition, the Police had given notices under the Public Order Act 1986 (“the 1986 Act”) imposing conditions on public assembly and assembly in support of BF.

However, the Police wanted to go one step further and ban BF altogether from Luton on the Day.

This was refused at the final hearing, for the following reasons:

The march was regulated by conditions under the 1986 Act.

Banning leaders of a registered political party altogether from a town was very considerable. One had to consider legitimate activity by that party in a town, the potential for calls of injunctions in other towns with a significant Muslim population, and how legitimate political activity might be conducted if those calls were heeded.

The terms of the interim injunction would be in operation and were directed to the actual conduct that was of concern to the police and community.

Although BF came across as fundamentally and obviously wrong, and even extremist with damaging views, one must strive not to inhibit the freedom to express views, the freedom to demonstrate, and the freedom to organise politically.

Given that there were safeguards in place, and having regard to the need to protect fundamental freedoms including freedom of speech, albeit speech of a disagreeable nature, the judge’s decision was a sound one, in all the circumstances.  

/ 1st Jul 2015


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