Suella Braverman Acted Unlawfully With Anti-Protest Measures, High Court Rules

Suella Braverman's anti-protest law has been quashed by the High Court.
Suella Braverman's anti-protest law has been quashed by the High Court. Jack Taylor via Getty Images

The High Court has ruled that Suella Braverman’s anti-protest measures were unlawful and ordered for the legislation to be quashed.

Last June, the then home secretary lowered the threshold of when police could act on protests, enabling officers to curtail anything which caused “more than minor” disruption.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested as a result, including famous climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The court said the government’s decision to give police “almost unlimited” powers was passed without parliament’s approval.

Parliament rejected these extra police powers in January 2023, only for Braverman to push them into law six months later through a procedure which calls for less scrutiny and debate across Westminster.

These powers were quickly compared to those used by Henry VIII, as he was known for ruling directly by proclamation not by parliament.

Lord Justice Green and Mr Justice Kerr said the government ignored parliament’s request to define what “serious disruption” meant – and widened the definition instead.

These draconian new powers meant that officers could intervene when disruption was “closer to that which is normal or everyday”.

The court also concluded the government’s consultation prior to implementing this legislation was unlawful, because it was “one-sided and not fairly carried out”, and did not engage with other parties.

The judges demolished current home secretary James Cleverly’s defence of the powers, too.

He said no new offences or powers of a criminal nature were created, while the judges argued the regulations still increased the risk of protesters of bing judged to have acted criminally.

The court concluded: “The government was aware that this was likely to increase the number of conditions imposed by the police by up to 50% and that prosecutions would increase by circa one-third.”

Liberty, who brought the landmark legal challenge, said the ruling was a “victory for democracy” and “sets down an important market that the government cannot just do what it wants”.

The director of the human rights organisation, Akiko Hart, said: “We all have the right to speak out on the issues we believe in, and it’s vital that the government respects that.

“These dangerous powers were rejected by parliament yet still sneaked through the back door with the clear intention of stopping protesters that the government did not personally agree with, and were so vaguely worded that it meant that the police were given almost unlimited powers to shut down any other protest too.

“This judgment sends a clear message that accountability matters, and that those in power must make decisions that respect our rights.”

The government will be taking the case to the Court of Appeal, and the reversal of the measures has been suspended until that outcome is decided.