I work for a non-profit organisation called 1 Minute to Save the World that runs a competition short film of the same name. On the 8th of December we were screening a selection of the films, the winners and some of the best runners-up, at the Palace of Westminster. As Campaigns Manager I was required to attend but was stopped from doing so by the Serjeant-at-Arms.
Back in October I was arrested near the Palace of Westminster under section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 for tresspass in a designated area. I was granted bail with the condition that I not go within 100m of the Palace of Westminster. Now this might sound like a fairly serious obstacle in the way of attending the screening this evening, however I there was a potential route around this. I applied, through my solicitor, for a bail variation, basically permission to go to Westminster for 4 hours that evening on the invitation of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group.
I was told this morning that my application had been refused on the grounds that I might re-offend. After making a few enquiries it turned out that, regardless of whether I was granted a variation or not, the Serjeant-at-Arms would not allow me to enter the building. It was even offered that I would be escorted and at all times accompanied by a security guard or police officer but this was also refused.
I was then told that during the screening three “..large and burly…” police men turned up with spotter cards and scanned the audience looking for me in case I had snuck in. So much for the police changing their tactics and approach to peaceful demonstrators!