Case against protester who wore mask at pro-Palestine rally is dismissed

The case against a protester who refused to remove his face covering at a pro-Palestine march in London has been dismissed for procedural reasons.

Ibrahim Hlaiyil, 38, was charged with failing to comply with a requirement to remove a face covering, under Section 60aa of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Mr Hlaiyil was arrested at the protest on October 14 by Pc Dan Quinn after the officer asked him to remove his face covering and he refused, City of London Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday.

Under the Act, a police officer has the power to “require any person to remove any item which the constable reasonably believes that person is wearing wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing his identity”.

However, during his evidence, the officer did not say that he believed that Mr Hlaiyil was trying to conceal his identity – a key part of the charge.

Due to this omission, the case against Mr Hlaiyil collapsed.

Judge Michael Snow said that Pc Quinn seemed to have taken the view that he was able to arrest anyone who refused to take off their face mask at the protest.

Judge Snow said: “There is no evidence to prove the essential element of the charge.

“The charge must be dismissed at this stage.”

In a statement read to the court, Mr Hlaiyil said he was wearing the scarf over his face because he had a “bad cough”.

Pc Quinn approached Mr Hlaiyil and asked him to remove the covering.

Mr Hlaiyil said: “I tried to explain to him that it was not a mask.

“He did not listen to me and dragged me away before arresting me.”

In his evidence, Pc Quinn said that Mr Hlaiyil told him that he had “an allergy to particulates”.

However, he said he arrested him as he failed to remove the covering when asked.

He said he would not have told him to remove the covering if it was a medical mask.

After the judge dismissed the case, Mr Hlaiyil burst into tears.

He then hugged his lawyer, Audrey Mogan, and supporters.