Police win flag protest appeal

As the BBC reports, the Appeals Court has overturned a High Court ruling in April that the PSNI misdirected themselves in relation to policing the flag protests in Belfast – which “led to the situation in which the police facilitated illegal and sometimes violent parades with the effect of undermining the 1998 Act, in breach of their duties under section 32 of the Police (NI) Act 2000 and in breach of the applicant’s Article 8 rights.”  From the BBC report

Ruling on the appeal on Tuesday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, who heard the case with Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice Weir, said: “The issues facing those policing this major public disruption which extended far beyond Belfast to all parts of Northern Ireland demonstrated the enormous difficulties for those policing modern societies in circumstances of community conflict and heightened tension.

“We consider that the decision to manage disruption and pursue a subsequent criminal justice charging policy was well within the area of discretionary policing judgment which such situations require in light of the challenges posed by the circumstances.”

Sir Declan said management of unnotified processions was not dealt with by the Parades Commission, but by police using public order powers.

He said the panel of judges did not believe there was “anything in the management of the issues arising from these parades by police” to suggest the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 and the Police (NI) Act 2000 had been undermined.

Allowing the appeal, he added: “This was a difficult situation in which proportionate steps were taken to protect the Article 8 rights of the applicant and the other residents of the Short Strand.”

Following the verdict, lawyers for DB [the complainant] indicated they would take their case to the Supreme Court in London.

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