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Protester ‘may be prosecuted’ after amplifiers seized at Westminster

MP David Davis speaks to anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
MP David Davis speaks to anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

An anti-Conservative protester may be prosecuted after his amplifiers were seized from him in Westminster, police have said.

At around 1pm on Tuesday, a group of officers swooped in on “Stop Brexit Man” Steve Bray.

Mr Bray was told that under the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into force earlier in the day, he was forbidden from holding a noisy protest within a designated area outside the Houses of Parliament.

Brexit
Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Metropolitan Police said Mr Bray, who has vowed to return with amplifiers, was reported over the offence – meaning he will be considered for prosecution.

Speaking after the incident, Mr Bray told the PA news agency: “Under this new law, this fascist law that’s been rushed through Parliament, taking away our rights to protest, they want protesters to just stand there with their hands folded.

“But protest is all about sound and vision, without that you’re not a protest, but they don’t want dissent and they don’t like me.

“The police came along, they said if we carry on they’ll take them away, so I’m carrying on as normal and they seized them.

“I tried to stop them and more and more police officers came and took the amps.

“I’ve been told that I have been summoned and I’ll have to go to court and they’re being held as evidence, I’m gonna elect trial by jury and let’s hope it’s 12 Remainers.”

Donations to Mr Bray’ s fundraising page shot up by more than £25,000 on Tuesday evening, with the total passing £100,000.

More than 4,800 contributions have been made in the 99 weeks since the page was created.

The top hat-wearing demonstrator is often seen in the area playing loud music in a protest sometimes coinciding with Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Bray was known as the Stop Brexit Man because he used a megaphone to shout “Stop Brexit”.

General Election 2019
Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (Yui Mok/PA)

In social media footage, Mr Bray, who was surrounded by banners and European Union flags, could be seen struggling with officers and telling them “hands off” as they attempted to take the amplifiers.

An officer could be heard responding: “You’ve already been warned not to turn it on.”

Mr Bray then demanded officers return a banner he said had been taken from him, before accusing them of breaking one of the amplifiers.

His hat could be seen falling off in the scuffle.

An increasingly irate Mr Bray could be later heard shouting at officers: “You fascists! This is not law! Fascist mouthpiece.”

Dozens of officers were close to the scene on Tuesday afternoon, with Mr Bray saying some were following him wherever he went.

He added: “I’m going to get more amps, I won’t stop it, they didn’t arrest me today although I’ve got to go to court.

“I’ll carry on, nothing’s changed.”

A Met statement said: “The man was using the equipment in a zone where the use of amplified equipment is prohibited.

“He was spoken to by officers on multiple occasions in relation to specific legislation regarding the use of the amplifying equipment and that it would be seized if he persisted.”

The statement added: “He was also reported for the offence. (This means that he will be considered for prosecution for the offence).”

The laws came as part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which included measures to curtail noisy protests.

Officers said the equipment was being seized under section 145 of The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, which on Tuesday was extended to a wider area around the Houses of Parliament.

Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, condemned the action to “silence” Mr Bray.

He told the House of Commons: “I know many of us have had brushes with Mr Bray but his voice is being silenced today – by tomorrow there could be many others who have never demonstrated previously who are subject to prosecution under this law.”

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, of Amnesty International UK, said: “The measures taken against Steve Bray are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

“Unfortunately, we fear there is now going to be a cascade of cases where people are being prevented from legitimate protest on grounds that are both petty and punitive.

“The deeply authoritarian new policing laws are a charter for the suppression of legitimate protest – a dark day for liberty in our country and something we need to see repealed as soon as possible.”

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