Simon Moore: an update

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Longstanding readers will recall my post from the end of April in which I drew attention to the case of Simon Moore, the Save Leyton Marsh activist who was faced with an ASBO banning him from (amongst other things) “Taking part in any activity that disrupts the intended or anticipated official activities of the Olympic games or Diamond Jubilee celebrations.”

Simon was arrested in Windsor on Monday, apparently for breaching the terms of this order. He was part of a group of people trying to set up a self-sufficient eco-village on unused land that is part of the Crown Estate, i.e. in the vicinity of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (even though these have now ended) and in the vicinity (ie about 5 miles away from) the venue of the Olympic rowing and flatwater canoe/kayak events, even though these don’t start for another month.

The above photo shows Simon with a group of fellow “Diggers” shortly before his arrest – and a long way from any Olympic site.

Details of where Moore is being held, or the basis under which he is being held, are still vague but some information can be found on London Indymedia at https://london.indymedia.org/articles/12392 and https://london.indymedia.org/articles/12379

Two things we can say for certain: the first is that the ordinary practice of the Magistrates’ Court, when sentencing for a breach of a post-conviction ASBO, is to sentence the person to imprisonment.

The second is that Moore’s order is too widely-drawn and offends against even the limited legal protection which the courts offer in Asbo cases – namely that an order should only be made to prohibit a specific form of conduct, closely tied to the accused’s previous behaviour. To expand an “anti-Olympic ASBO” into an order prohibiting protest within several miles of an Olympic event that is not due to take place for six weeks is to expand the order into an all-purpose prohibition on “thought crime”.

I am sure all my readers will join me in sending solidarity greetings to Simon. His detention is another small sign of how the Olympics are changing Britain: for the worse.

UPDATED

Save Leyton Marsh has now reported that Simon was released on bail today, but is bailed to attend Westminster Magistrate Court this Thursday at 9.30am, where there is likely to be a full hearing of an application to convert his present interim ASBO into a full (i.e. 2 year) order. There will be a protest outside that hearing. I would encourage everyone who is available to attend.

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3 responses »

  1. FYI the original ASBO had many sections and section 6 was not specific to any jubilee or olympic connection. it related more to simon’s previous and public ‘occupy’ actions, incuding parliament square ‘democracy village’, the st paul’s tent city, as well as the camp at leyton marsh.

    so, section 6 stated that he was not allowed to enter, or to interfere with any property or land without the owner’s permission. when arrested he was not even on crown estate land and was nowhere near anything deemed ‘olympic’ or ‘jubilee’. he was simply committing possible civil trespass. this would normally be dealt with by a court order and eviction, but now in simon’s case has resulted in immediate arrest and likely imprisonment. he is appearing at guildford magistrates court this morning.

    • Thanks Rikki, that’s useful to know. If the basis of the arrest was a breach of clause 6 of the original order then I would say that this – if anything – adds force to a point I made in my original post on this, back in April, that the order should be challenged as hopelessly (and unlawfully) wide. The theory of ASBOs is that they are intended to stop a definite and specific wrong, tailored to the conduct of the person bound by them. If they become so wide as to cover all potential protest then they are vulernable to an article 10 challenge.

      This isn’t just me speaking, but is the settled law: in Boness [2006] 1 CR App R (S) 690, the Court of Appeal held: “Because an ASBO must obviously be precise and capable of being understood by the offender, a court should ask itself before making an order: ‘Are the terms of this order clear so that the offender will know precisely what it is that he is prohibited from doing?’” (para 19, per Hooper LJ)

      In N v DPP [2007] EWHC 883, the High Court held that the terms of an ASBO must not be too wide, not necessary or not proportionate.

      (But it’s much harder of course to challenge a final order that’s been made, and breached, than one that is just a nasty glint in a District judge’s eye).

      Good luck to Simon, and if there’s anything I or others from the Counter Olympic Network can usefully do (or, for that matter, comrades from the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers), just ask.

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