Regina v Nicol and Selvanayagam: QBD 10 Nov 1995

The appellants appealed a bind-over for a finding that each appellant had been guilty of conduct whereby a breach of the peace was likely to be occasioned. The appellants, concerned about cruelty to animals, had obstructed an angling competition by seeking to distract the fish and to dissuade the anglers from catching them. No violence was used or threatened, but in spite of police requests to desist the appellants continued until they were arrested.
Held: Simon Brown LJ said: ‘Before the court can properly find that the natural consequence of lawful conduct by a defendant would, if persisted in, be to provoke another to violence, it should, it seems to me, be satisfied that in all the circumstances it is the defendant who is acting unreasonably rather than the other person . . [A]s it seems to me, some clear interference at least with the rights . . of others is bound to characterise any conduct of which it can properly be said that it would naturally provoke violence in others. Putting it another way, the Court would surely not find a section 115 complaint proved if any violence likely to have been provoked on the part of others would be not merely unlawful but wholly unreasonable – as, of course, it would be if the defendant’s conduct was not merely lawful but such as in no material way interfered with the other’s rights. A fortiori if the defendant was properly exercising his own basic rights, whether of assembly, demonstration or free speech.’
Simon Brown LJ, Scott Baker J
[1996] Crim LR 318, [1995] Times LR 607, (1996) 160 JP 155
Magistrates Courts Act 1980 8115
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Howell (Errol) CACD 1981
The court considered the meaning of the legal concept of a breach of the peace.
Held: The essence is to be found in violence or threatened violence. ‘We entertain no doubt that a constable has a power of arrest where there is reasonable . .
ApprovedWise v Dunning KBD 1902
A protestant preacher in Liverpool was held to be liable to be bound over to keep the peace upon proof that he habitually accompanied his public speeches with behaviour calculated to insult Roman Catholics. His actions had caused, and were liable to . .

Cited by:
CitedRedmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 23-Jul-1999
The police had arrested three peaceful but vociferous preachers when some members of a crowd gathered round them threatened hostility.
Held: Freedom of speech means nothing unless it includes the freedom to be irritating, contentious, . .
CitedBibby v Chief Constable of Essex Police CA 6-Apr-2000
A bailiff sought to execute against goods in a shop against the will of the occupier. The police attended and when tempers were raised the police officer anticipated a breach of the peace by the bailiff and arrested him. He sought damages for that . .
CitedLaporte, Regina (on the application of ) v Chief Constable of Gloucestershire HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimants had been in coaches being driven to take part in a demonstration at an air base. The defendant police officers stopped the coaches en route, and, without allowing any number of the claimants to get off, returned the coaches to London. . .
CitedHashman and Harrup v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Nov-1999
The defendants had been required to enter into a recognisance to be of good behaviour after disrupting a hunt by blowing of a hunting horn. They were found to have unlawfully caused danger to the dogs. Though there had been no breach of the peace, . .
See AlsoSelvanayagam v United Kingdom ECHR 12-Dec-2002
Any presumption of law which had operated against the applicant had been within reasonable limits, had taken account of the importance of what was at stake and had maintained the rights of the defence. . .
CitedWright v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis QBD 11-Sep-2013
The claimant sought damages for false imprisonment and infringement of his human rights in the manner of the defendant’s management of a demonstration in which he was involved. The issue was whether ilce action was justified on the basis that the . .
Appeal fromNicol and Selvanayagam v United Kingdom ECHR 11-Jan-2001
(Admissibility) The applicants took part in an anti-fishing protest at an angling match on 28 May 1994. Their aim was to sabotage the match by throwing twigs in the water close to the anglers’ hooks so as to disturb the surface, while other . .

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Updated: 10 February 2021; Ref: scu.221600