Tabernacle -v- Secretary of State for Defence; CA 5 Feb 2009

References: [2009] EWCA Civ 23, [2009] WLR (D) 35
Links: Bailii, Times, WLRD
Coram: Laws LJ, Wall LJ, Stanley Burnton LJ
The claimant sought judicial review to test the validity of the bye-laws which prohibited them from camping on public land to support their demonstration.
Held: The bye-laws violated the claimant’s right to freedom of assembly and of expression. The respondent’s objections to the camp were insubstantial and could not justify the interference. The camp had existed for 23 years. Demonstrations were in their nature unruly and inconvenient.
Laws LJ said: ‘As I have said it is plain in this case that the Secretary of State has not sought to impose anything approaching a blanket ban on AWPC’s rights of protest. They may protest as much as they like: all they are stopped from doing is camping in the Controlled Areas. In that sense it may be said that paragraph 7(2)(f) of the 2007 Byelaws only goes to the manner and form of the exercise of the appellant’s rights under ECHR Article 10. It is not on its face directed towards the suppression of free speech, on the part of the AWPC or anyone else. It merely prohibits camping, which happens to be the mode or setting chosen by the AWPC for its protest.
But this ‘manner and form’ may constitute the actual nature and quality of the protest; it may have acquired a symbolic force inseparable from the protestors’ message; it may be the very witness of their beliefs.’ and ‘Rights worth having are unruly things. Demonstrations and protests are liable to be a nuisance. They are liable to be inconvenient and tiresome, or at least perceived as such by others who are out of sympathy with them. Sometimes they are wrong-headed and misconceived. Sometimes they betray a kind of arrogance: an arrogance which assumes that spreading the word is always more important than the mess which, often literally, the exercise leaves behind. In that case, firm but balanced regulation may well be justified.’
Statutes: Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston Byelaws 2007, European Convention on Human Rights 10 11
This case cites:

  • Appeal from – Tabernacle -v- Secretary of State for Defence Admn (Bailii, [2008] EWHC 416 (Admin), Times 09-Apr-08)
    The court considered the validity of bye-laws used to exclude protesters from land near a military base at Aldermarston.
    Held: The byelaw which banned an ‘camp’ was sufficiently certain, but not that part which sought to ban any person who . .

This case is cited by:

  • Cited – Hall and Others -v- Mayor of London (on Behalf of The Greater London Authority) CA (Bailii, [2010] EWCA Civ 817, [2010] WLR (D) 195, WLRD, [2011] 1 WLR 504)
    The appellants sought leave to appeal against an order for possession of Parliament Square on which the claimants had been conducting a demonstration (‘the Democracy Village’).
    Held: Leave was refused save for two appellants whose cases were . .
  • Cited – Howarth -v- Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis QBD (Bailii, [2011] EWHC 2818 (QB))
    The claimant sought judicial review of a decision to search him whilst travelling to a public protest in London. A previous demonstration involving this group had resulted in criminal damage, but neither the claimant nor his companions were found to . .
  • Cited – City of London -v- Samede and Others QBD (Bailii, [2012] EWHC 34 (QB))
    The claimant sought an order for possession of land outside St Paul’s cathedral occupied by the protestor defendants, consisting of ‘a large number of tents, between 150 and 200 at the time of the hearing, many of them used by protestors, either . .
  • Approved – The Mayor Commonalty and Citizens of London -v- Samede (St Paul’s Churchyard Camp Representative) and Others CA (Bailii, [2012] EWCA Civ 160, [2012] PTSR 1624, [2012] HRLR 14, [2012] WLR(D) 41, [2012] 2 All ER 1039, [2012] BLGR 372, WLRD)
    The defendants sought to appeal against an order for them to vacate land outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London which they occupied as a protest.
    Held: The application for leave to appeal failed. The only possible ground for appeal was on the . .
  • Cited – Lord Carlile and Others -v- Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn (Bailii, [2012] EWHC 617 (Admin))
    The claimant had invited an Iranian dissident to speak in Parliament, and now challenged the decision of the Home Secretary to refuse her a visa on the basis that her exclusion was not conducive to the public good. She was a member of an . .

Leave a Reply