Corbyn Backs Tory MP's Call to Drop Charges Against Royal Funeral Protesters
16:48 GMT 14.09.2022 (Updated: 15:21 GMT 28.05.2023)
Four people have so far been arrested for protesting against the monarchy and new sovereign King Charles III, often silently. The royal family, currently leading the 10 days of official national mourning, have yet to comment.
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed a Tory former minister's calls for police to drop charges against protesters against the monarchy.
The two veteran backbench rebels found themselves on the same side over the arrests of up to four people in Edinburgh and London for holding placards with republican slogans during the official mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away last week at the age of 96.
"I wrote to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland yesterday, expressing my concern that an anti-monarchy protester has been charged by police. Since I wrote to him, a second protester has been charged," Davis, the former Conservative Party chairman and Brexit secretary, tweeted on Tuesday.
"At a time of national mourning, we should all ensure that we behave respectfully," Davis wrote. "But we must not sacrifice the principle of free speech upon which modern Britain is built. I am a staunch monarchist, but republicans have as much right to voice their opinions as anyone else."
"Well said David," Corbyn replied.
© Jeremy Corbyn/TwitterFormer Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn backs Conservative MP David Davis' call for police to drop charges against two republican protesters
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn backs Conservative MP David Davis' call for police to drop charges against two republican protesters
A woman was arrested on Sunday outside Edinburgh's St Giles Cathedral, where the queen's coffin was to lay in state, and charged with breach of the peace for holding up a cardboard sign reading: "F*** imperialism. Abolish monarchy."
The woman, who identified herself only by the given name Mariángela, said her arrest was "clearly a violation of freedom of speech, which is supposed to be enshrined in the laws of the United Kingdom," adding: "If I’m not allowed to express my opinion, I don’t see how that law is being observed."
And on Monday, Police Scotland said two men, one aged 22 and another aged 52, had been arrested for the same offence on the Royal Mile, where the queen's funeral procession was accompanied by Charles, his sister Princess Anne and brother Prince Andrew on foot.
It was unclear whether either of those arrests were linked to a heckling incident where one spectator shouted "Andrew, you're a sick old man!" as the group passed.
Also on Monday, Barrister Paul Powlesland was threatened with arrest outside the Houses of Parliament after holding up a hand-written card reading: "Not my King" — in apparent reference to new monarch Charles III.
Powlesland said he travelled to the capital after hearing that police were clamping down on free speech. He said constables asked for his name and address, saying "I wanted to make sure you didn’t have bail conditions."
The barrister said that when he asked what offence he was committing, the officer replied vaguely: "I don’t know, someone may be offended by it."
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Corbyn had already tweeted his objections to the arrests earlier that on Tuesday
"The arrests of republican protestors is wrong, anti-democratic and an abuse of the law," the left-winger wrote. "People should be able to express their views as a basic right."
Corbyn, who has served as an MP since 1983, now sits as an independent MP after his successor Sir Keir Starmer ordered his suspension from the Labour party and withdrew the parliamentary whip from him.