Senior Tory MP Criticises Police Over Arrests Of Anti-Monarchy Protesters

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An anti-Royal demonstrator protests outside Palace of Westminster, central London on September 12, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)
An anti-Royal demonstrator protests outside Palace of Westminster, central London on September 12, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)

An anti-Royal demonstrator protests outside Palace of Westminster, central London on September 12, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. (Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO via Getty Images)

A senior Tory MP has raised concerns about crackdowns on free speech  following the arrest of anti-monarchy protesters during the period of national mourning.

Former Cabinet minister David Davis has written to Sir Iain Livingstone, the chief constable of Police Scotland, after two protesters were arrested and charged in connection with a breach of the peace.

Davis, a prominent civil rights campaigner in parliament, said he was a “staunch monarchist” but that “republicans have as much right to voice their opinions as anyone else”.

On Monday Police Scotland said they had arrested and charged a 22-year-old man in connection with a breach of the peace after the Duke of York was heckled during the procession of the Queen’s coffin in Edinburgh.

Videos on social media showed a man shouting at Prince Andrew as he walked behind the hearse before being dragged to the ground by two bystanders.

The man was subsequently arrested and was released by police on an undertaking to appear at court at a later date.

On Sunday, a 22-year-old woman was arrested during the accession proclamation for the new King in Edinburgh and was later charged.

The woman was arrested after she allegedly held up a sign outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the late Queen’s coffin lay in state for 24 hours.

The sign allegedly read: “f*** imperialism, abolish monarchy”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 22-year-old woman was arrested outside St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh on Sunday, September 11, 2022 in connection with a breach of the peace.

“She was charged and was released on an undertaking to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.”

In his letter to Livingstone, Davis said: “I am writing to you following the news that an individual has been charged following an apparent act of protest outside St Giles’ Cathedral.

“It is not for me to interfere in the judicial process. However, with the accession of our new monarch, I would hope that the police will continue to respect the right to free speech.

“If the individual concerned committed acts of violence, or the police had reason to believe she would, then action was obviously necessary.

“But if the individual was simply stating an opinion, I trust you agree that a liberal approach would be desirable.”

He added: “I speak as a strong monarchist, but nevertheless, I hope that members of the public will remain free to share their opinions and protest in regard to issues about which they feel strongly.”

There have also been arrests in Oxford, Edinburgh and London.

This morning, a barrister who claimed he was threatened with arrest for holding up a blank sign has said “peaceful” protest must be allowed.

Paul Powlesland, 36, from east London, travelled to parliament on Monday afternoon with “a blank piece of paper”.

He alleged that a police officer told him he risked being arrested under the Public Order Act if he wrote “not my King” on the paper because someone might be “offended”.

Powlesland told Good Morning Britain: “I think we need to draw a clear line between disrespect for mourning of the Queen and the protesting of Charles’s accession. That’s the clear divide.

“I wasn’t outside Buckingham Palace, I wouldn’t have gone outside Buckingham Palace, because that’s where people are mourning.

“I was outside parliament, the centre of our politics, where someone has proclaimed himself King and said that I’m his subject.

“I think I get a chance to at least make my opinion about what I think about that in very polite terms.

“We need to allow people to protest peacefully the political accession of a monarch.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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