Adam Castle, Rosie Castle, Sam Eaton v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Justice Pitchford
Judgment Date08 September 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] EWHC 2317 (Admin)
Docket NumberCase No: CO/1718/2011
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Date08 September 2011

[2011] EWHC 2317 (Admin)

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

DIVISIONAL COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Before:

Lord Justice Pitchford AND Mr Justice Supperstone

Case No: CO/1718/2011

Between:
Adam Castle, Rosie Castle, Sam Eaton
Claimants
and
Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
Defendant

Mr M Westgate QC and Ms R Brander (instructed by Bhatt Murphy) for the claimants

Mr I Hare (instructed by the Metropolitan Police Service) for the defendant

Hearing date: 5 & 6 July 2011

Lord Justice Pitchford
1

This is the judgment of the Court to which we have both contributed.

2

The claimants, Adam Castle, his sister Rosie, and school friend, Sam Eaton, took part on 24 November 2010 in a demonstration in central London against the proposed rise in university tuition fees and the removal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. The two boys were then aged 16 years and Rosie was aged 14 years. They arrived in Trafalgar Square at about mid-day. They were not wearing school uniform. Shortly afterwards a crowd which eventually grew to over 3,000 people made its way from Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall, towards Parliament Square. For reasons to which we shall need to return, a decision was taken by the defendant's senior tactical commander at the event, Chief Superintendent ("CS") Michael Johnson, to authorise the containment of the demonstrators within Whitehall. Whitehall was sealed off by police cordons at the Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square ends of Whitehall, and at the side routes from Whitehall towards Embankment. The claimants were among those who remained contained in Whitehall for the rest of the afternoon, Rosie until about 7.00 pm, Adam and Sam until about 8 – 8.30 pm.

3

They claim that their containment was unlawful and seek declarations to that effect, together with damages. The claim has been listed for consideration of the application for permission to apply for judicial review, with the review to follow should permission be granted.

Delay

4

CPR rule 54.5 requires that the claim form must be filed promptly and in any event not later than 3 months after the grounds first arose. The claim form was issued on 23 February 2011 which, the defendant asserted in writing, was not prompt, and was at the end of the outer time limit. Little information was provided by way of explanation for the delay. At paragraph 7 of the claimants' grounds the following was asserted:

"7. The claimants submit that they have acted promptly in bringing these proceedings. They were not initially aware of any means by which the treatment to which they were subjected on 24 November 2010 could be challenged. In due course, however, through a family connection, contact was made between Adam Castle and an officer of the Children's Commissioner for England who was able to direct him to Bhatt Murphy Solicitors. Bhatt Murphy were then able to arrange to meet with him on 1 February 2011 and with Rosie Castle and Sam Eton on 3 February 2011. Thereafter a letter before claim was sent to the defendant on 7 February 2011 … and the defendant replied on 10 February 2011. Disclosure of the documents referred to at pages 12 – 13 of the defendants' letter of 7 February 2011 to Liberty was received by Bhatt Murphy on 15 February 2011."

5

The defendant submitted in writing that it was hardly credible that the claimants were without knowledge or support. Adam's and Rosie's father is a journalist who reports on legal, including human rights, issues. However, on 17 March 2011, Adam Castle made a further witness statement in which he explained that, although there had been a good deal of discussion within the family about the events of 24 November, he had not intended to bring legal proceedings because he did not believe that he could. However, on 17 December, a friend of his older sister sent him an e-mail. She told him that her step-father, the Children's Commissioner, was interested in the issues raised by the events of 24 November and was considering whether there was a means of challenge. Adam expressed his interest. In the New Year he repeated his interest and, on 25 January 2011, he was advised to contact his present solicitors. There was no complaint by the defendant of delay following their first meeting on 1 February 2011.

6

We accept that this claim was not brought promptly. However, there are ample grounds for extending time under CPR rule 3.1. No prejudice is identified. The claimants are minors. They had no access to relevant advice until it was fortuitously offered. The issues raised by the claimants have an important public dimension and the defendant is fully prepared to meet the claim. We indicated our provisional view that we should consider the merits of the claim and Mr Hare, for the defendant, quite properly withdrew his argument as to delay.

The grounds of claim

7

The following are, in summary form, the grounds upon which the claimants alleged that their detention within the containment was unlawful:

(i) The defendant's decision to contain and, therefore, to detain children constituted a breach of his duty under section 11 Children Act 2004 rendering the containment unlawful;

(ii) In further breach of his duty, the defendant detained the claimants for an excessive period of time and for the unlawful purpose of carrying out searches under section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and/or for the purpose of making arrests for offences allegedly committed during the demonstration; thus, the duration of the detention was unlawful.

Accordingly, it is contented that the defendant exceeded his common law power and acted in breach of the claimants' rights under Articles 5, 8, 10, and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("ECHR").

We grant permission for this claim to proceed and shall now turn to the facts.

Background

8

There had been a demonstration for similar purposes organised by the National Union of Students 14 days earlier. On 10 November 2010, some 25,000 demonstrators marched from North London to Millbank. A hard core of violent demonstrators, intent on causing serious trouble, diverted from the published route to attack no. 30 Millbank. Windows were smashed and the demonstrators occupied the building. In consequence of these events, which received national news coverage, many arrests were made for criminal damage and aggravated trespass.

9

In the days preceding the 24 November event the Metropolitan Police received notification of a public procession and applications in respect of demonstrations contributing towards what was called a "national student walk-out". The University of London Union notified a march from Malet Street to Trafalgar Square commencing at 11.00 am. An organisation called "Youth Fight for Jobs" intended to assemble at Horse Guards Avenue and march between 1.00 and 2.00 pm to Victoria Place via Whitehall and Parliament Square. The "Education Activist Network" intended to protest in Cowley Street, where the Liberal Democrat headquarters is situated, at 1.30 pm, and to hold a further demonstration in Richmond Terrace at 5.00 pm.

10

Senior police officers in the metropolis responsible for policing major events such as these are designated in advance for specific tasks under the protocols published in the Manual of Guidance for Keeping the Peace (produced by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) on behalf of ACPO). Gold Commander is in command of overall strategy. Silver Commander is the officer in tactical command. He is assisted by Bronze Commanders who deliver the manpower on the ground to police the event in accordance with Silver Commander's plan. Silver Commander for the 24 November event was CS Michael Johnson who has wide experience of policing public order events. He had not, however, been personally involved in the policing of the 10 November demonstration. CS Johnson received an intelligence briefing on 16 November. A team from the Metropolitan Police central planning unit ("CO11") had been in discussion with the organisers, negotiating routes, start times and the provision of stewards. It was anticipated that the event would be attended by a large number of students and young people but it was not anticipated that there would be a significant number of school children. November 24 was a normal school day. It was thought that some schools had been targeted by student groups encouraging a walk-out from school but the police had received no notification from either schools or student bodies that school children were expected to attend the demonstration.

11

CS Johnson was allocated three senior Bronze Commanders, Superintendents Woods, Van-Orden, and Evans, together with Bronze Reserve Commander Chappell. He had a total of 30 police support units ("PSUs"), comprising about 1000 officers in all at his disposal, split between the bronze commanders. Police officers serving in PSUs are graded at levels 1, 2 and 3. All officers receive basic training in public order duties. All level 1 and 2 officers receive training in the technique known as containment. All officers policing the demonstrations on 24 November had received levels 1 and 2 training. CS Johnson said in his witness statement that he was well aware of the duties of police officers towards the safety and welfare of children. Levels 1 and 2 trained officers receive training as to their responsibility towards vulnerable people including the elderly, the disabled or those in distress. CS Johnson interpreted the policy as applying to children as well as other categories of vulnerable people. Officers are trained not just in crowd management but in the need for respect for the right peacefully to protest.

12

CS Johnson explained the policy of the Metropolitan Police when, during a public demonstration, disorder occurs, namely to engage in close physical contact with demonstrators in the form of police cordons. It...

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