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'Steve Bray may be inconvenient but he's not a criminal' Sadiq Khan tells LBC

28 June 2022, 20:44 | Updated: 28 June 2022, 20:50

Sadiq Khan said Steve Bray should not be considered a criminal over his protest
Sadiq Khan said Steve Bray should not be considered a criminal over his protest. Picture: LBC

By Will Taylor

Sadiq Khan has hit out at a change to protest law that saw a prominent anti-Brexit protester get hauled away by the Met.

Steve Bray became famous for wearing his blue top hat, placards and his bellowing of "Stop Brexit" through a megaphone outside Parliament – to some people's delight, to other people's annoyance.

"Stop Brexit Man" saw his protest get shut down and officers seized his hi-fi equipment during another of his campaigns in Westminster.

New protest laws under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act came into force on Tuesday, which saw police tell him he was forbidden from carrying out a "noisy protest" in a designated area outside Parliament.

While some welcomed an end to his loud campaigning, others voiced fears for the act's impact on protests.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was asked on LBC's State of London Debate on Tuesday about the Met's response.

He blamed the Tories for passing the law and said: "One of the ironies, of course, in all this is that the Conservatives talk about being libertarians.

Sadiq Khan criticised the new law on protesting
Sadiq Khan criticised the new law on protesting. Picture: LBC

"And they call some of us snowflakes, some young people millennials, when they express concern about politically incorrect things said by Tories and this home secretary has now basically outlawed some of the freedoms we have to protest.

"Look, Steve Bray may be inconvenient to some people, he may be loud, but he’s not a criminal."

He added in response to Tory MP Andrea Leadsom's claim that his protest had been violent: "I've heard some of his chants and some of his songs, he's many things – violent he isn't."

Read more: Shocking footage emerges of attack on 'Stop Brexit' man Steve Bray

Former coin dealer Mr Bray, who was a failed Liberal Democrat candidate for Westminster, was seen surrounded by about 20 officers on Tuesday.

A scuffle broke out and his hat was knocked off as police turned off his speaker and pulled it from him. He claimed police had broken his speaker equipment.

Mr Bray told LBC earlier: "I'm here, protesting as normal, I've been protesting for the last six years or so and the police warned me twice and I said, 'no we're a protest, I'm not recognising this fascist law that Priti Patel has pushed through Parliament'.

Steve Bray saw his noisy Westminster protest get shut down
Steve Bray saw his noisy Westminster protest get shut down. Picture: LBC

"I put the amp on again... and they came over and started to seize the two amplifiers.

"I'm very angry but at the end of the day amplifiers are replaceable. We need more people here, we need more noise because I ain't going to let these b******* grind me down, none of us are."

The 52-year-old said he was "absolutely not worried at all about being arrested", would not pay a fine if issued one, and that for every amp taken by police he would add another 10.

He claimed "this has fast become a fascist state, when the laws don't suit them, they change them to suit them and that's when we need to start worrying".

Mr Bray said he had been given two warnings before he was threatened with arrest. Previously, an officer passed on a "friendly warning" about the new law coming into effect.

The new protest law has been described by Conservatives as necessary to stop "guerrilla" activism such as Insulate Britain's disruptive protests.