Liberty provides independent monitoring as TUC and Metropolitan Police work together to ensure smooth running of cuts protest

01 March 2011

Liberty returns to its 1930s roots providing legal observers for the TUC march against public spending cuts 

The Metropolitan police and TUC have asked Liberty to provide independent observers as part of their joint efforts to ensure that the TUC's ‘March for the Alternative’ against public spending cuts on the 26th March runs smoothly.

The ‘March for the Alternative’ is predicted to be the biggest TUC event for decades and will see protesters assemble at Victoria Embankment before marching to Hyde Park for a rally in the afternoon. Liberty, who were invited to the police's planning meetings, will act as Independent Legal Observers of the demonstration.  They will have a presence in the Police Special Operations Room and on the streets – allowing the human rights group an unprecedented opportunity to gain an overall picture of the protest and its policing.  

Nigel Stanley, TUC Head of Campaigns and Communications said:

“We are working well with the police to ensure that the March for the Alternative is a safe, well-organised and family-friendly event. We already have a clear agreed route and well trained stewards.

Liberty's involvement can only provide extra reassurance that our right to speak out against deep spending cuts will be policed in a way that recognises our right to protest, just as we recognise our share of the responsibility for the public safety of such a huge event.”

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens, head of Central Operations for the Met Police, said:

“We police London with the consent of the public and can only be effective as long as we retain the faith and trust of Londoners. An essential part of retaining that trust is ensuring we are always open to scrutiny and being challenged on what we do.

We learn from every operation, but it is invaluable to have independent observers take an objective look at how we police protest. We welcome Liberty's involvement in the TUC march, it is something from which the Met, the TUC and those who take part on the day, can only benefit.

We are committed to working with organisers to ensure anyone who wants to protest has the chance to do so, but it must be peaceful protest. I would emphasise that strong views, no matter how passionately held, can never justify or legitimise violence. “

James Welch, legal director at Liberty said:

"It is heartening that the TUC and Metropolitan Police are working together to ensure a free and peaceful protest on March 26th. Liberty is honoured to accept their invitation to provide independent monitoring.

Our roots lie in the legal observation of demonstrations in the 1930s and our founders would have been delighted with the kind of cooperation offered by the police and protest organisers of today. It shows that the right to peaceful protest now guaranteed by the Human Rights Act has made some advances over eight decades."

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128