Protests can be a ‘lawful excuse’ to block roads, Supreme Court rules amid government crackdown | The Independent
Lizzie Dearden 14 hours ago
The Supreme Court has ruled that protests can be a “lawful excuse” to block roads, as the government pushes for new laws to limit peaceful demonstrations.
Britain’s most senior judges said it was right to acquit a group of protesters who blockaded the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair in London in 2017.
A ruling given on Friday morning said that protesters can have a “lawful excuse” defence against the offence of obstructing a highway, even where they have used “deliberately physically obstructive conduct”.
“There should be a certain degree of tolerance to disruption to ordinary life, including disruption of traffic, caused by the exercise of the right to freedom of expression or freedom of peaceful assembly,” the majority ruling added.
“There must be an assessment of the facts in each individual case to determine whether the interference with article 10 or article 11 rights was ‘necessary in a democratic society’.”
The offence has been used against hundreds of protesters in recent years, and the trial of Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded a Rupert Murdoch-owned printworks had been adjourned pending the Supreme Court’s ruling.