HC Deb 08 April 1968 vol 762 cc892-4

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Attorney-General whether he has received the report of the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding the possibility of proceedings under Section 2 of the Public Order Act, 1936 in relation to the display of physical force in Grosvenor Square on Sunday, 17th March and whether he will make a statement as to what proceedings have been initiated or are in contemplation under this Section or otherwise arising out of this occurrence.

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

With permission, I should like to answer Question No. 75. By virtue of Section 2 of the Public Order Act, 1936, those who take part in the control, management or training of the members of an association of persons organised and trained for the use or display of physical force in promoting a political object are guilty of an offence. After study of the police report on the Grosvenor Square demonstration, I have decided, in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, that the evidence available does not justify proceedings under that Section.

However 246 persons have been charged with other offences arising out of this demonstration. These include charges for assaults on the police, possessing offensive weapons, insulting and threatening behaviour, obstructing the police, obstructing the footway and highway, and miscellaneous charges. Seven persons have been imprisoned, 174 fined, eight conditionally discharged, two bound over to keep the peace, and 18 had their charges dismissed. Thirty-seven cases remain to be heard.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

While everyone will, naturally be pleased that the objective diligence of the Director of Public Prosecutions has not found it necessary to bring any proceedings under Section 2 of the 1936 Act, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that these powers are available in the future if, unhappily, any organisation were minded to organise and train for violent display with political objectives?

The Attorney-General

These powers are available to deal with any association equipped to use physical force to promote any political object. Unlawful violence or incitement to violence will not be tolerated, from whatever source or however motivated.

Mr. Orbach

Has any disciplinary action be taken against the minority of police from whom, it is evident—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is evident both from the pictures in the Press and from television that there was a very small number of policemen who kicked demonstrators and who had to be restrained by other policemen from attacking certain members of the demonstration. Has any disciplinary action been taken against those few policemen?

The Attorney-General

My hon. Friend will recall that as a result of incidents in this demonstration 171 police officers were injured and 42 civilians received hospital treatment. The violence which took place was deplorable. One or two incidents were mentioned to my hon. and learned Friend, then the Under-Secretary of State, in the debate last week, and those incidents are being investigated.

Sir P. Rawlinson

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate that the majority of people believe that the police behaved with the greatest of restraint, in view of the circumstances which they met. Was there evidence of foreigners and foreign students taking part in this raid, and, if there were any such, what processes of deportation are contemplated?

The Attorney-General

There was a disturbing feature in the demonstration in the conduct of what appeared to be an organised group of German students. As my hon. and learned Friend said in the Adjournment debate on 4th April, there might be cases in future in which individuals would not be allowed entry into this country if it were thought likely that they would abuse the occasion to foment disorder and cause injury and damage.

Mr. Conlan

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether any of the persons involved were members of the Monday Club?

The Attorney-General

I have no information to that effect.

Mr. Hastings

Can the Attorney-General tell us what organisation, if any, sponsored the arrival and activities of the German contingent in question?

The Attorney-General

I should like notice of that. Again, it was not the Monday Club.