Tory Minister grilled over Policing Bill 'diminishing' right to protest

14 March 2021, 14:02

Tom Swarbrick questions Safeguarding Minister over protest clampdowns

By Seán Hickey

Safeguarding Minister was confronted over proposed legislation which seeks to criminalise people for causing 'serious annoyance' during protests.

Victoria Atkins joined Tom Swarbrick to discuss the aftermath of shocking scenes in Clapham Common on Saturday which saw women arrested for attending a vigil.

The Safeguarding Minister cited lockdown restrictions as the reason behind gatherings of this nature being disallowed, but Tom nudged the minister by reminding her that the science doesn't support such measures

He went on to play Sir Patrick Vallance stressing that outdoor gatherings are low risk in terms of spreading coronavirus, and even cited examples of BLM protests during the summer and protests in New York which didn't result in spikes of the virus.

"There's no scientific evidence for making these gatherings illegal based on the spread of coronavirus" Tom claimed. Ms Atkins argued that the Government have "always been very careful" to follow the advice of scientific experts.

Read More: 'How dare you!': Furious row with caller questioning Clapham vigil

Priti Patel on police funding package

Read More: Labour to vote against Priti Patel's 'disproportionate' anti-protest bill

Tom pushed the case: "Do you think they need to be looked at again given that the science is changing?"

"We have to be very methodical in how we deal with this pandemic," the Conservative MP replied, going on to note that a slow easing of restrictions is currently in place which is in line with scientific advice.

Tom reminded the minister that "people worry about their civil liberties" and fear that such measures are "lingering over for longer than is necessary," citing the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which has lost support of Labour before it even reaches the House.

Read More: Covid-19 crisis in numbers: LBC brings you the stats you need to know

"This bill you're bringing forward on Monday, for example, would allow the police to stop protests which would cause 'serious unease' and create criminal penalties for people who cause 'serious annoyance.'"

Ms Atkins noted that the bill is a "huge piece of legislation" with many other proposals contained within. Tom pushed Ms Atkins, stating "you are diminishing or taking away a fundamental right," with proposed new laws in the legislation.

"Most people would accept that public order matters and protests have changed since 1986," the Safeguarding Minister argued, explaining that the new bill aims at "trying to update those laws to reflect some of the practices we've seen in very disruptive protests in years gone by."

She cited some protesting methods used by Extinction Rebellion such as glueing oneself to a building or hampering people's routes to work as examples of the sort of protest the bill seeks to prevent.

"There will be a lot of people worried about some of the language in this – the idea of serious unease and serious annoyance," Tom concluded.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

A sister has described the moment she punched a crocodile to save her sister.

'I wasn't going to leave her behind': Twin recalls punching crocodile to save sister

Susan Hall has dismissed Ed Miliband's claim that she would be an 'embarrassment' to Britain as the next London mayor.

Susan Hall dismisses as 'nonsense’ after Ed Miliband said she would be an ‘embarrassment’ as London Mayor

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's deputy tells LBC, amid warning members have 'neglected defence'

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's Deputy General tells LBC, as he warns Russia 'cannot be trusted'

Emma Webber (left) speaking to LBC

Mother of Nottingham attack victim Barnaby Webber blasts police ‘mistruths’ after force is put in special measures

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.

Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

Mel Stride has backed the PM

Rishi Sunak has 'absolutely not' betrayed nation over Rwanda plan, insists minister after Braverman's attack on PM

Tom and caller

'Our family is there': Mother shares heartbreaking experience of being a British Jew during Israel-Hamas conflict

The ban will be brought into effect in months

'Children should be in the classroom to learn': Gillian Keegan orders 'blanket ban' of mobile phones in schools

Tributes have been paid to Elianne after she was stabbed to death in Croydon

Fellow pupil of schoolgirl stabbed to death in Croydon describes heartbreaking moment students were told of her killing

Scotland's first safe drug consumption space set to be openned

'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

The education secretary discusses educational reforms with Tom Swarbrick

Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

Tom Swabrick

'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Exam results

Equation sheets given to GCSE cohort in attempt lessen reduced grade inflation blow, schools minister says

Crime commentator on Adam Provan

Internal review of rapist ex-Met officer is the equivalent of 'marking your own homework', says crime commentator

Education Secretary discuss new Eton free schools on LBC

‘Bailed out by Eton’: Education Secretary discusses new free schools with Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick