Met police say crowds will be dispersed if protesters fail to follow rules
Thousands of anti-lockdown protesters are marching through central London.
With anger brewing at the perceived unfairness of local lockdowns and increasing disagreement over the effectiveness of restrictions and the science of the pandemic, people travelled from across the country to attend the capital’s fourth mass protest against the government’s coronavirus measures.
Louise Creffield, the founder of Save Our Rights UK, one of the organisations behind the demonstration, said: “We believe that the coronavirus regulations that are in place are not proportionate and appropriate, and are causing more harm than good.
“We are very concerned with protecting people’s human rights: right to privacy, family life, bodily autonomy, medical freedoms, and so on. We are not just concerned with lockdowns per se, we are concerned with the infringements with our privacy by having this track and trace everywhere.
“The impact of the actions taken by the government are numerous, so we are not willing to support that, and we are keen to take a stance.”
Previous anti-lockdown demonstrations have been addressed by controversial figures including David Icke and Piers Corbyn, who have pronounced the pandemic a hoax. Some of those attending have carried placards and banners supporting conspiracy theories ranging from claims that 5G is causing people’s respiratory problems to the increasingly popular QAnon.
Saturday’s demonstration gathered at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park for a march through central London, a change in approach after police used forced to break up the last two anti-lockdown demonstrations in Trafalgar Square.
Speakers included Piers Corbyn, the brother of the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who exhorted followers to “stop new normal, save lives”.
The Metropolitan police said on Friday evening that a plan was in place for a day of protests and other events across London on Saturday.
“Those who fail to comply, deliberately ignore the instructions of officers, and put other people at risk of transmitting the virus, will be subjected to enforcement action in line with the regulations,” the force said.
It also issued an open letter to “those attending or organising a demonstration”. “The MPS [Metropolitan police service] strongly advises people not to attend any large gathering for the protection of yourselves and others. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic,” it said.
Events including a demonstration against Donald Trump and a protest over the detention of Hong Kong demonstrators are planned for this weekend as well as the Save Our Rights march.
Ade Adelekan, the Met’s gold commander for Saturday, said: “I would urge those looking at attending a protest tomorrow that these events may not be exempt from the regulations if the organisers do not comply with the regulations and submit a satisfactory risk assessment. This could result in crowds being dispersed or indeed enforcement action being taken by officers on scene.”
He said the force would not allow the health of Londoners to be put at risk and that they would take action against groups or individuals “who flagrantly and dangerously breach these rules”.