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Protesters lose royal wedding case

Royal wedding protesters have lost their High Court claim that they were the victims of unlawful searches and arrests.

The Metropolitan Police were accused of effectively "suppressing anti-monarchist sentiment" when Prince William married Kate Middleton in April last year.

But two judges have ruled the police had acted within their powers and were not guilty of operating an unlawful policy.

Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Openshaw, sitting in London, dismissed applications for judicial review from 20 individuals among scores arrested or subjected to searches before or on the wedding day.

The judges declared: "We find nothing in the various strands of the claimants' case, whether taken individually or cumulatively, to make good the contention that the policing of the royal wedding involved an unlawful policy or practice, with an impermissibly low threshold of tolerance for public protests."

Human rights activists say the case has major implications for the policing of other major events, including the Olympics.

Karon Monaghan QC, appearing for the bulk of those detained, argued at a May-June hearing that her clients were all pre-emptively arrested under an unlawful policy to prevent disruption to the wedding.

She argued the case touched on "the most important of constitutional rights, namely the right to free expression and to protest, both of which are elemental to a properly functioning democracy".

The judges described the case as "complex". One group of claimants involved 15 protesters arrested at various locations in London, including at a Starbucks in Oxford Street, Charing Cross and those attending the Queer Resistance "zombie picnic" in Soho Square.

The ruling was a victory for Met lawyers who argued that the police action was justified and proportionate.

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