London's police 'regret' arrests of anti-monarchists amid backlash
Police officers take away protesters near to the 'King's Procession on Saturday, ahead of the coronation. /Justin Tallis/Pool.
Police officers take away protesters near to the 'King's Procession on Saturday, ahead of the coronation. /Justin Tallis/Pool.

Police officers take away protesters near to the 'King's Procession on Saturday, ahead of the coronation. /Justin Tallis/Pool.

London's Metropolitan Police have expressed regret over the arrests of the leader of anti-monarchist group Republic and five others at the coronation of King Charles. The apology following criticism that the security response was heavy-handed.

The Met said they regretted that six of those arrested at the event were prevented from protesting during the coronation on Saturday. The six have had their bail cancelled and no further action will be taken, the police statement added.

"We regret that those six people arrested were unable to join the wider group of protesters in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere on the procession route," the statement, issued late on Monday, said.


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The chief executive of the Republic, Graham Smith, one of the six arrested, said on Twitter that police had apologized to him in person on Monday but he planned to talk to lawyers about taking legal action.

Police said the arrests were made because of items which officers believed could have been used to disrupt the event. The police said in their statement on Monday night, that they were unable to prove the protesters intended to use the items to lock themselves to positions on the coronation route.

Republic said the items in question were intended for securing placards. One man was also arrested for possession of a knife/pointed article.

There were over 11,000 police on the streets of central London for the coronation, the largest ceremonial event staged in London for 70 years, and a total of 64 arrests were made.

In a statement made after his arrest, Smith said: "This was a heavy-handed action which had the appearance of a pre-determined arrest that would have occurred regardless of the evidence or our actions. The right to protest peacefully in the UK no longer exists."


Initial Reaction

On Saturday the police's original reaction was to say that they understood public concern following the arrests, but said they acted after receiving information that protesters were determined to disrupt the coronation procession.

London police chief Mark Rowley warned on Friday that police would take action if protesters tried to "obstruct the enjoyment and celebration" of people, saying there would be a "very low tolerance" for disruption.

Police have gained further powers to curtail protests under a new policing law passed last year, and a public order act which came into force on May 3. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose government passed the legislation, defended the Met Police over the arrests.

In a interview Monday Sunak said, "the police are operationally independent of government. They will make these decisions based on what they think is best.

"I'm grateful to the police and everyone who played a part in ensuring that this weekend has gone so well, so successfully and so safely."

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Source(s): Reuters

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