UK minister defends Metropolitan Police as force criticized over coronation arrest


The minister on Sunday defended the Metropolitan Police Department after police arrested 52 people before and during the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.

Culture Secretary Lucy Fraser believes the Met strikes the right balance between the right to protest and the policing of international events, and said she has “great confidence” in police. .

Graham Smith, CEO of the anti-monarchist group Republic, who was detained for about 16 hours on Saturday, called the arrest a “direct attack” on British democracy.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said she feared police “may not be striking the right balance”, while some Labor lawmakers took to Twitter to criticize the Metropolitan over the arrests. bottom.

As tens of thousands of people, including foreign heads of state, gathered at Westminster Abbey in London to celebrate Saturday’s coronation, eight republican activists, about 20 climate change activists Just Stop Oil, A total of 52 people were arrested, including three who were in possession of the rape alert.

Epoch Times photo
A crowd gathers outside Buckingham Palace at the end of the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, in London on May 6, 2023. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

London Metropolitan Police said the arrest was made for crimes including crimes, violations of public order, violation of peace and conspiracy to cause pollution.

The Metropolitan Police said that “protesters were determined to disrupt the coronation procession”, including by defacing public monuments with paint, breaching barriers and impeding official movements. He said he received the information.

It also said officers seized the rape alarm after there was “particular concern from military colleagues” that the alarm would “frighten the horses participating in the procession.”

Smith told the PA news agency on Sunday that all Republic activists have been released on bail and police are asking whether they will take further action.

He also said an activist had been arrested for arming himself with a lock-on, a new offense against public order.

However, according to BBCMatt Turnbull, one of the arrested Republic activists, said the lanyard he planned to use to hold the placard was “misunderstood” as locking the device.

Under the new Public Order Law, protesters holding objects with the intent to “lock on” will be fined and those blocking roads will be sentenced to 12 months in prison.

The controversial law has thwarted police efforts to quickly remove roads, railings, and other objects or each other by activists using glue or so-called device locks. It was enacted following climate change protests.

Epoch Times photo
Graham Smith, leader of the campaign group The Republic, participates in an anti-monarchy protest before the Federal Service outside Westminster Abbey in London, March 13, 2023. (May James/Reuters)

In a statement, Smith said the republic’s planned protests were “peaceful and lawful.”

“These arrests are a direct attack on our democracy and the basic rights of everyone in the country,” he said.

Smith accused the police officers of displaying “no judgment, no common sense, no basic decency”, and their actions were “hard-handed, making it look like a pre-determined arrest, regardless of evidence or evidence.” It was action,” he said. action. “

Fraser defended the Met on Sunday morning, speaking on Sky’s “Sophie Ridge on Sunday” program, and the culture secretary said police said the coronation “would have raised questions about national security” in the international community. I had to take into consideration that it was a serious event.

“What they have to do is balance the right to protest, which is important in a democracy. At the same time, everyone else has the right to enjoy a great day,” she said. I was. “Overall, I think they’ve managed to strike that balance just right.”

She also said she trusts police to exercise new powers under the Sedition Act.

“I think it’s absolutely right that they have the necessary powers to allow people to go about their daily lives while respecting the rights of those who protest,” she said.

Asked on the same show whether the police were getting the balance right, the Liberal Democratic Party’s deputy leader said, “I’m concerned that the police didn’t get the balance right.”

“More information needs to come out about what really happened,” Cooper said. “Some of that information is coming to light. But on the surface, I’m concerned.”

She criticized the government for the new law, saying, “What worries me is that the Conservative government is consolidating these kinds of broad powers. It is about ensuring the police’s social responsibility and the police’s duty to promote peaceful protests in practice.”

Many Labor lawmakers took to Twitter to criticize the Met, including the chairman of the standards committee. Sir Chris Bryant Shadow Minister of Domestic Violence Jess Phillips.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said it was inappropriate to comment without all the facts on the “Sophie Ridge on Sunday” show.

“What matters is accountability, and where concerns are being raised, whether it’s by Republicans, campaigning for elected heads of state, or those concerned more generally. I think. [what] they read in the newspaper [television]it is important that the police hold themselves accountable,” he said.

PA Media contributed to this report.