On Friday 1 July 2011 Lindis Percy was in London seeing Mark Stephens (lawyer who represented her in many cases in the Magistrates Court, Crown Court and High Court London – Keir Starmer now DPP was the Barrister in the legal team).
She was looking at the many boxes of files from the cases she was involved with in the 1990s. The files contain significant and historical documents relatingto the history of the US Visiting Forces being allowed to be in occupation and control of bases referred to as ‘RAF’.
Afterwards and mindful that 4 July was coming up, Lindis went to the US embassy in Grosvenor Square. She quietly and peacefully stood in front of the fence which now surrounds the embassy and under the iconic American eagle – on the roof of the building. She was holding the upside down US flag with the words ‘Independence FROM America’ written on it.
Very soon an armed officer inside the fence arrived. He wanted to know how long Lindis was going to be there and what was written on the flag? He alerted someone. Two armed officers from the Metropolitan Diplomatic Police Group (SO6) arrived. PC Maycock asked if Lindis had permission to be there. She replied she did not need permission to peacefully demonstrate. He said anyone demonstrating within half a mile of Parliament had to obtain permission. She thought he may be referring to s.132 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
As she declined to move PC Maycock chose to arrest Lindis for an alleged ‘breach of the peace’ – saying that ‘many Americans are offended by your presence and the use of the US flag – upside down’. After seeking instructions PC Maycock told Lindis that he was de arresting her. He said that she must not go back. She went back to the original spot and was again arrested by PC Maycock for… alleged ‘breach of the peace’. She was roughly handcuffed and told that a van would come to take her to a police station. Clearly seeking instructions PC Maycock then further arrested her for an alleged offence under section 14 – Public Order Act.
Lindis was taken to Belgravia Police station. Sergeant Parker was told by PC Maycock the reasons for the arrest. Lindis quietly told him that she thought both reasons were questionable. The officers all consulted the computer.
Lindis was quickly told by the Custody Sergeant that he was releasing her as the ‘breach of the peace had now passed’. On the matter of s.14 (Public Order Act 1984) he said that the officer was right but that he was going to release her.
No custody record had been opened during this time and Sergeant Parker had not asked Lindis for any details eg her name or address. She asked for a copy of the custody record. He said that she would have to write in to get a copy. She had just started to write a letter asking for a copy of the non existent custody record when he told PC Maycock to escort her out of the custody area.
Lindis wrote a letter to Sergeant Parker when she was released. She asked PC Shoor on the desk in the public office of the police station to give it to him. Before leaving she asked PC Shoor if she may have a copy of the letter.
- Percy v Director of Public Prosecutions Queen’s Bench Divison – LJ Balcombe and Collins 1994
Held: For a ‘breach of the peace” to occur a person must be threatening violence or is actually violent.
- Percy v Director of Public Prosecutions Queen’s Bench Division LJ Kennedy and Mrs Justice Hallett 2001
Held: A conviction for using threatening, abusive and insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment alarm or distress, contrary to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, where the claimant defaced the flag of the United States was incompatible with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
- CAAB uses the upside down US flag as a symbol of protest.
- There are no grounds for arrest in the above situation citing s.14 Public Order Act 1984.
Lindis will be seeking advice with a view to pursuing a legal action.
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