MEP CALLS ON POLICE TO OBEY LAW AT PROTEST CAMP
GREEN VOWS TO FIGHT ANY POLICE INTIMIDATION AT TITNORE WOODS
GREEN Party Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has condemned Sussex police for filming
protestors’ tree-top homes in Titnore Woods, near Worthing, without
permission – or a search warrant.
Dr Lucas said: “The camp and the police have enjoyed relatively good
relations over the last couple of months – but these latest incidents have
soured that relationship and increased the likelihood of violence during any
future eviction from the site.”
The ‘Protect Our Woodland’ group are fighting plans to cut down 210 trees in
ancient woodland at Durrington, near Worthing, to make way for a Tesco store
and 875 new homes. They argue that at least as many homes are currently
empty across the borough and that a new supermarket is entirely unnecessary.
Eight weeks ago the protestors claimed ‘squatters’ rights’ in a network of
connected tree houses they have built in the woods – a designated site of
importance for nature.
But twice in the past week, on July 19 and July 25, the protestors say
police refused their polite requests to leave the camp and insisted on
filming them and their homes – without a search warrant.
And yesterday the High Court ordered the protestors be evicted – but they
are expected to appeal against the ruling.
Dr Lucas, herself a veteran protestor who has argued at the European Court
of Human Rights that a ‘Right to Peaceful Protest’ is provided by reading
the rights to free speech, assembly and movement together, said: “It is
simply unacceptable for the police to take the law into their own hands. The
law is there to protect citizens from the state, not just from each other,
and we know that terrible mistakes happen.
“I am truly worried that the alleged police lawbreaking has increased the
risk of violence during any future eviction.
“I serve notice on Sussex Police that we in the European Parliament are
watching – and will lodge a formal complaint if the laws of the land or the
rights of the protestors are violated during any eventual eviction.”