Handcuffed times two. A case of wrongful arrest?

The Belfast Telegraph reports that two men were arrested during a Republican Network for Unity (Cogus) protest at Alliance Party HQ yesterday.

Two members of Republican Network for Unity (RNU) walked into the building on University Street at 9am yesterday and demanded a meeting with Justice Minister and Alliance Party leader David Ford.

They note the men were arrested by the PSNI due to behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.

This common law concept has been clarified by the Court of Appeal:

 an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person, or in his presence, his property, or is likely to cause such harm being done

That definition was accepted as sufficient in European Law following a EHRR:

 the concept of breach of the peace has been clarified by the English courts over the last two decades, to the extent that it is now sufficiently established that a breach of the peace is committed only when an individual causes harm, or appears likely to cause harm, to persons or property, or acts in a manner the natural consequence of which would be to provoke violence in others.

However, given the two men had placed themselves in handcuffs before the police arrived and therefore were arguably incaple of harming people or property,  it will be interesting to see if the PSNI actually end up defending themselves in a case of wrongful arrest.

 They handcuffed themselves to the furniture and refused to leave

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  • Jack2

    “However, given the two men had placed themselves in handcuffs before the police arrived and therefore were arguably incaple (sic) of harming people or property,”

    Who placed the handcuffs on? Who had the keys? Perhaps they were novelty handcuffs.
    If you take away the fact that they were already in handcuffs this should be a non story.

    Two tax sponging job dodgers attempt to strong arm their way into a meeting with senior Minister.
    You need an appointment with a doctor, do these dummies just think you can turn up and demand a meeting with a Govt. Minister?

  • dwatch

    Mark, what if two UVF men came into your home and handcuffed themselves to your furniture, what would you do,
    Make them a cup of tea, and tell them to make themselves at home boys, while the wife fries them up an ulster fry with double egg, bacon etc?

  • Mark McGregor

    dwatch,

    I’m asking did the PSNI act legally and quoting case law and European opinion to frame that question.

    Your point doesn’t cover anything raised by the blog.

    Jack2 has at least attempted to defend the PSNI response. I think it’d be more suited to review by their courts.

  • Neil

    Mark, what if two UVF men came into your home and handcuffed themselves to your furniture, what would you do,

    I suspect if someone invaded your home they may be breaking the law.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mark, hand cuffing themselves to furniture would indicate an intention to resist any attempt to remove them from the property where they are no longer welcome, and as such clearly threatens harm to the property and persons carrying out their removal.

  • oracle

    Dwatch, Mark McG

    Relax there’s nothing to see with the R.N.U crowd they were initially a loose grouping of different strands of disaffected republicans from several different organizations however since it made logical sense by British intelligence to have a very active control over any outlet or group that had connections to all strands of republicanism they flooded it with agents who had been working for them for years.

    The main thrust behind British Intelligence thinking is that R.N.U would be around to mop up activist who are looking for an alternative to Sinn Fein and that by getting them involved with R N U they were keeping them away from the 32CSM or the Indies.

    Military intelligence have been even more proactive with a grouping very close to R.N.U one that has the title of the most bizarre organization in republican history O.N.H also known as O.N.Hoax due to the fact that all their operations are designed to either fail or be discovered and their invention is to keep former Provos or new recruits away from the RIRA or the Indies

    O.N.H plant bombs to attack the Police then phone the PSNI up and tell them that they have laid a trap before the Police get anywhere near it!
    They’ll then have a meeting in broad-daylight with a representative for the PSNI and tell them were the device is planted!
    Then just for good measure their leader will meet with journalists and tell them what type of device where it was planted were the explosives were made up, who supplied the grenades or detonators and how many people were involved in planting the device and where they come from.

    R.N.U must be amazingly hungry for publicity as they tell the media before protests take place where it is and what type of protests they have planed in the future, the media were aware of the Alliance office protest before the individuals had entered the building.

    O.N.H go even further they tell the media about planed attacks even when they were called off, making contact with a journalist to tell him all about the failed plan of attack!
    The leader of O.N.H told the journalist it was a horizontal mortar attack on a PSNI vehicle that came to a virtual halt on one of its regular patrols in North Belfast.
    Armed with this warning the PSNI are now fully aware that a patrol route has been targeted for mortar attack and that it is at a point that halts the vehicle now if Special branch can’t narrow that field down and go and collect CCTV of possible target areas looking for red-lights or heads then they should hand their badges in.

    I think most people consider RNU and ONH to be two sides of the same security coin so I’ll not get too fussed about staged arrests.

  • orly

    Tramps.

    And a low quality blog post again on Slugger.

  • I’m not a lawyer, but….

    In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, breach of the peace is descended from the 1361 Justices of the Peace act, which refers to riotous and Barratory behavior that disturbs the peace of the King. More modern authority defines a breach of the peace as existing whever harm is actually done, or is likely to be done, to a person or his property, or a person is in fear of being harmed through an assault, an affray, a riot, ***an unlawful assembley***, or some other form of disturbance.

    The power to arrest for a breach of the Peace is usually used to remove violent, potentially violent or provocative offenders (it is not necessary for the offender himself to be physically involved in any violence) from a scene rapidly, in Bibby V Chief Constable of Essex it was also used when a person in the opinion of a Constable was likely to be the victim of a breach of the peace or an act of violence.

    In England and Wales, breach of the peace is not an offence, in the sense that it is not punishable either by a fine or imprisonment either at statute or common law and nor do proceedings for breach of the peace give rise to any conviction. In England and Wales, constables (or citizens) are permitted to arrest a person to “prevent a further breach of the peace” which allows for the police or the public to arrest a person ***before a breach of the peace has occurred***. This is permitted when it is reasonable to believe should the person remain, that they would continue with their course of conduct and that a Breach of the Peace would occur.

    Doesn’t look like they were wrongfully arrested to me…. Maybe we could have an opinion from a learned gentleman?

  • between the bridges

    MMcG ”However, given the two men had placed themselves in handcuffs before the police arrived and therefore were arguably incaple of harming people or property, it will be interesting to see if the PSNI actually end up defending themselves in a case of wrongful arrest.”

    let’s see now, guy handcuffed to furniture, so i presume he can still damage the furniture (property) and presumably he/they have arms and legs free, that could damage anyone within striking distance? guilty as charged milord…

  • michael-mcivor

    Thousands were out burning in england to afraid to go near a goverment office- two men went and held a protest inside the belfast office of a person in goverment- most will oppose the protest- but it was political-

  • carl marks

    dwatch (profile) says:
    12 August 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Mark, what if two UVF men came into your home and handcuffed themselves to your furniture, what would you do,
    Dont know about mark, but i think i would start with The wind that shakes the barley, then Micheal Collins and finish with the wolftones greatest hits, that would sort them

  • Cynic2

    How are the mighty fallen. From a feared terrorist group to guff like this and the breathless desperate attempts to resuscitate this rotting corpse of a ‘movement’.

  • Cynic2

    “now here’s de masterplan. We will handcuff ourselves BEFORE the cops get there. Then Mark McGregor can write a post on Slugger claiming dat we were arrested unlawfully.”

    “Jasus, dat’s a Masterpiece in strategic planning. Sf can stick the 1916 proclamation up their hole after this one”

    Extract from the Dissident Republican Operational Manual (2011 ‘Father Dougal’ Version)

  • lamhdearg

    Where the two men who (as seen on tv) appeared to attempt to prevent an officer in the execution of he duty, as in the 1964 act,Any person who assaults a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting a constable in the execution of his duty, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both

    Any person who resist or willfully obstructs a constable in the execution of his duty, or person assisting a constable in the execution of his duty, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale or both.
    This may also be an English law but i imagine we here in Ulster have something the same after the police act of 1969.

  • lamhdearg

    Sorry, forgot to add, or where they two other walts.

  • Brian

    Republican Network for Unity?

    If they all unite they may be able to get the support of one half of one percent of the population.

    Idiots.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mark is highlighting the case law, but I’m sure it is not this simple – need m’learned friends to say for sure (Stephen Barnes contribution above, though, seems credible). You can’t burst into an office and tie yourself to a desk and then try to say that is not a breach of the peace, it clearly must be.

    Legal matters aside, this was a pathetic gesture. Alliance HQ is staffed during normal hours by a clerical staffer/party secretary and, in Anna Lo’s office (a separate section on the same ground floor level) a constituency staffer – both female. I imagine the party’s general secretary was also present. This event will have been an intimidating and rather frightening experience. Combined with the attempted bomb attack on Alliance HQ a few months back and the firebombing of David Ford’s constituency office, it is clear that those who seek to highlight the issue of prisoner’s rights have no concerns about the use of violence against civilian office and staff to do so. I’m really not sure what those behind this violence think they might accomplish if they were dealing with a different justice minister.

  • granni trixie

    I am all for non violent protest.There is quite a tradition of this in NI during the troubles. These were the tactics of the peace movement for instance eg INNATE in mid 80s with the people who lived around Churchill Park in P’Down organised a Tea Party along the Garvaghy Road, (inviting all including the OO to join them).

    But surely anyone can see that the way RNU have gone about things was likely to be intimidating to staff? To get in the door of Alliance these people cannot have said they were coming in to tie themselves to desks but probably had a cover story initially. Org open to the public are easy targets and I think that RNU have crossed the line over from ‘peaceful’ protest.

  • GreenBack

    As B.A. Baracus says: “I pity the fools.”

    For an insight into modern Republicanism you shoud check out irishrepublican.net. their parallel universe is good for a laugh. Where the RUC are still patroling the streets of the ‘6 counties’ and people still refer to prisons a gaols. When people are handcuffed by ‘scum’ its police brutality. And every other post is ‘fair play’.

    This event, storming the HQ of a demotratic moderate political party by a few extremists, is seen as a great victory. It must be very disheartening to be a dissie Republican. Though judging by their use of language being a Republican isn’t an ideological choice but a genetic condition.

    The splits within splits is great soap opera as well.

  • Mark McGregor

    CS,

    It will be hard to prove a breach of the peace when David Ford had this to say:

    “It was not an issue whether there was any violence offered but nonetheless it was worrying to know people would abuse the open office”

    When the boss of the premises occupied is stating the main concern from him was ‘abuse of an open office’ it looks hard to claim there was any real fear of harm to people or property.

  • oracle

    Still doesn’t reveal why the security services who have full control over RNU and ONH would allow the Ford protest to go ahead once they were aware handcuffs were part of the equipment.

    It could have meant somthing much more serious, unless the profile building for RNU and ONH is of greater importance and takes precedence.

  • @ Oracle, U seem to enjoy writing about ‘the security services’, why not just use their real title MI5?

    As for British imperialists having full control of RNU? Yet again more silly speculation from U without a shred of evidence….

    In spite of heavy censorship on the failure of the Stormont Executive, particularly it’s ‘Justice’ Minister in implementing last August’s Maghaberry Agreement. The RNU protest successfully managed that everyone in the Six Counties is now aware of David Ford reneging on the deal!

  • Reader

    ArdEoin Republican: The RNU protest successfully managed that everyone in the Six Counties is now aware of David Ford reneging on the deal!
    Is there a copy of the deal somewhere online?

  • aquifer

    Militant Irish separatists shoot and murder people just for opposing them, so that when they perform acts normally associated with non-violent direct action, these acts can be fairly seen as very threatening.

    They police are justly doing their job.

    So called republicans cannot have it both ways, advocating cold blooded murder and expecting the legal curtesies due to people who put themselves rather than others at risk of harm.

  • Comrade Stalin

    When the boss of the premises occupied

    Spare the ridiculous hyperbole. Ford wasn’t there, and he is not in charge of the day to day running of HQ.

    is stating the main concern from him was ‘abuse of an open office’ it looks hard to claim there was any real fear of harm to people or property.

    Since Ford wasn’t there at the time, I would hardly see what weight his opinion on the matter would carry to a judge attempting to ascertain whether or not the actions of the protesters were either violent or could provoke a violent reaction.

  • Mark McGregor

    Comrade,

    Ford is the leader of one organisation based there and Director of two others, including the one that owns the property. To say he would have no insight to the feelings of those working there is ludicrous.

    He is the only named person with a connection and a strong one at that to publicly comment.

    And – provoking violence is not part of the definition for breach of the peace.

  • Comrade Stalin

    To say he would have no insight to the feelings of those working there is ludicrous.

    But I didn’t say he had no insight, Mark. I said he wasn’t there. How could he have known whether or not the staff there may have felt intimidated, apart from being a psychic ?

    And – provoking violence is not part of the definition for breach of the peace.

    Quoth your good self :

    the concept of breach of the peace has been clarified by the English courts over the last two decades, to the extent that it is now sufficiently established that a breach of the peace is committed only when an individual causes harm, or appears likely to cause harm, to persons or property, or acts in a manner the natural consequence of which would be to provoke violence in others.

    What am I missing ?

  • Mark McGregor

    CS,

    You’re correct on the definition. Apologies.

    The idea of Alliance staffers attacking that pair has made me titter though. 😉

  • Comrade Stalin

    It made me titter as well, I wondered if the case might fall based on the notion that cucumber sandwich Alliance types couldn’t possibly be provoked into a violent reaction.

  • Mark McGregor

    CS,

    So you are saying that David Ford made a statement to the media on the incident from a position of ignorance and that his comment was inaccurate?

    I assumed he had based it on information from his staff in a building he has numerous interests in.

    Do you think Ford often feeds inaccurate information to the media as you seem to claim above?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’ll leave that one as an exercise for the reader at home, Mark.

  • tomthumbuk

    Why don’t they go round to Max M

  • tomthumbuk

    Why don’t they go round to Max Mosley’s house and handcuff themselves to his furniture?

    I reckon they would be more than welcome.

    Oh you are awful…. but I like you!

  • Jack2

    tomthumbuk – you have replied to your own post.

    Did you mean to log out and post under a different account?