On Tuesday, November 8, several journalists covering Just Stop Oil protests were arrested by Hertfordshire Constabulary, casting a bleak shadow on the state of freedom in the UK.
Big Brother Watch and other campaign groups highlight that the arrests must be seen within the larger context of the debate around the draconian Public Order Bill which has been branded as an “anti-protest bill” by rights groups. They call on the Government to pause this draconian Bill.
Mark Johnson, Legal and Policy Officer for Big Brother Watch said, “the arrests of journalists by Hertfordshire Constabulary were a gross violation of press freedom in the UK, but these arrests did not occur in a vacuum.”
Jung Pung from Liberty said, “The Public Order Bill will have a chilling effect on the right to protest, criminalising anyone attempting to make themselves heard.”
A spokesperson at the Home Office said that public nuisance cannot go unchecked and that the Bill will in fact, protect press freedom by ensuring that protestors do not interfere with the printing press.