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MPs’ pleas over RAF protests

Whitby Gazette

Published Date: 28 October 2008
By Carl Gavaghan

MPS and peers have been urged to stop police from stamping out peaceful protests at RAF Fylingdales.

The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), which leads the protests at Fylingdales and RAF Menwith Hill, gave evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry into police tactics.

The joint human rights committee started the probe after it was
claimed there had been a rise in heavy-handed police tactics to prevent peaceful protests.

Two weeks ago Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament held a demonstration outside Fylingdales and CAAB has held a weekly demonstration outside of Menwith Hill since 2000.

It sees the two bases as part of the controversial ‘Star Wars’ missile defence system and says recently North Yorkshire Police had abandoned its helpful approach to staging the demonstrations.

It also alleges that members around Menwith Hill had been subjected to stop and search tactics.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Lindis Percy, a CAAB spokeswoman said protesters were frequently told to obey the will of Parliament, but Parliament had no say over the use of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill, for Star Wars.

Ms Percy said: “It was simply announced to Parliament that the Government was giving US government the use of Menwith Hill and Fylingdales.”

She also alleged that police were using powers that were never meant to be used in relation to peaceful protests.

The National Union of Journalists and the organisers of a Climate Change Camp at a planned gas-fired power station, in Kent, also made similar allegations at police behaviour at protests.

The human rights committee was set up to ensure all Government legislation complies with the Human Rights Act that incorporated a European convention into British law.

Base chiefs happy to let peace protests continue

Whitby Gazette

Published Date: 31 October 2008
By Caroline Gough

“We welcome debate and discussion and protests at Fylingdales are less frequent than at RAF Menwith Hill. “Police at Fylingdales have not been and are not …

CAAB has written to the Whitby Gazette in response to this article – in the words of the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

The right to protest is a fundamental feature of a democratic society, encompassing the rights to freedom of assembly and expression, amongst others. These rights have long featured in British legal tradition, and are protected by Articles 11 and 10 respectively of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). According to the House of Lords,

“these rights are fundamental rights, to be protected as such. Any prior restraint on their exercise must be scrutinised with particular care. The [ECHR] test of necessity does not require that a restriction be indispensable, but nor is it enough that it be useful, reasonable or desirable.”