On 25 January this year a small protest took place outside Bristol Magistrates’ Court.
Four people were subsequently arrested and issued with fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
At the time, officers had an honest belief the individuals were committing an offence under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”).
However, we now accept we misinterpreted the regulations and that the arrests and the issuing of FPNs were unlawful.
We have apologised to them and explained officers’ actions were motivated purely by a desire to protect the health of the public at the height of the pandemic.
Below is the apology we’ve provided to Rolland Dye, Taus Larsen, Ros Martin and Paula Richardson:
“The Defendant apologises to [the Claimants] for their arrest on 25th January 2021, and that their opportunities to continue to exercise their Article 10 and 11 rights to protest peacefully on that occasion were curtailed.
“At all times officers were acting in good faith, based on their understanding of the restrictions imposed by the Regulations at that time and were, at all times, motivated by a desire to protect the health of the public at the height of the pandemic.
“However, we fully accept that the arrest was based on a misunderstanding of the legal effect of the Regulations in place at the time, and that as a result they were unlawfully arrested.”