During the coronavirus pandemic and as a result of the Government’s attempts to impose restrictions that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are an increasing number of anti-lockdown protests. Fearing that these would both undermine the Government’s pandemic response and give rise to an increase in infections, the UK Parliament passes the (fictitious) Anti-Lockdown and Coronavirus Prevention Act 2021, which comes into force on 1 March 2021, banning all protests and assemblies relating to the Government’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Shortly after the Act comes into force, anti-lockdown activists in the (fictitious) area of Boyleville, arrange a protest to campaign against the Government’s proposal that a fourth UK-wide lockdown is necessary to prevent the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus. A lot of people sign up to attend the event on hearing that notorious anti-lockdown campaigner Scully Hitchcock will be speaking at the rally.
The rally starts as planned but because of the new legislation banning anti lockdown protests, the police are soon on the scene dispersing the crowds and arresting those protestors who refuse to leave the area. The situation becomes disruptive and the following events occur:
A group of three protestors, Jake, Amy and Terry, break away from the main protest and turn on some of the police officers present at the rally. They act violently, pushing the officers to the ground and throwing bottles and stones at them.
Two passers-by, Charles and Gina, who are strongly in favour of the lockdown, become irritated at the protest and start shouting at the participants. Charles and Gina repeatedly shout “You should all be locked up for the good of the country”. Rosa, one of the protestors, becomes distressed.
Jake, Amy, Terry, Charles and Gina are all arrested. Critically explain the offences with which they might be charged under the Public Order Act 1986.
In defence, Jake, Amy, Terry, Charles and Gina believe that their freedoms of expression (Art. 10 ECHR) and assembly (Art. 11 ECHR) have been infringed. Advise them as how the Human Rights Act 1998 would benefit them in their defence against these charges. You should keep in mind the fact that the police were acting under the powers given to them
in the (fictitious) Anti-Lockdown and Coronavirus Prevention Act 2021.