Lawyers slam Met’s ‘heavy-handed’ approach to protests in east London

EDL March from Tower Bridge towards Aldgate

EDL March from Tower Bridge towards Aldgate - Credit: Archant

Lawyers have criticised “heavy-handed” tactics used by police after they arrested 300 protesters at demonstrations this weekend.

Solicitors at Hodge Jones and Allen, which is representing many of those arrested during protests against far right group the English Defence League, said bail conditions imposed by police raise “fundamental questions about the right to free speech.”

“The conditions appear to be a standard set, which have been imposed irrespective of personal circumstances or evidence in an individual case,” the firm added in a statement.

Many of those arrested in the Whitechapel area on Saturday are prevented from demonstrating anywhere in London while on bail until October.

Partner Raj Chada, who specialises in public order cases, said he had never seen so many arrests at a protest – and pledged to “scrutinise” the conditions imposed.

Scotland Yard confirmed the “vast majority” of the 286 people arrested for public order offences were anti-fascists who had breached conditions imposed on Saturday’s marches.

A spokesman said the Met took a “balanced approach” to reducing violence and disorder and would consider legal representations on bail conditions upon receipt.

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Fourteen other arrests were made for offences including possession of pointed blades and violent disorder, with three people charged.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon – was charged with a public order offence and inciting public assembly to breach conditions of the march. He is due in court on October 22.