Last year during the national elections campaign, Class War Scotland member David McHarg was arrested twice because of a poster that was displayed on his window. The poster read: “Fuck off you Tory cunts”.
The first time the police had visited David McHarg in May 2017. Upon David’s absence, the cops demanded that his wife remove the offending poster. She refused, explaining that the poster is her husband’s property and it is not for her to decide what to do with it. The polce conducted two more visits at David’s, during which he refused to remove the sign, or to give any personal details. Eventually David was arrested for ’threatening or abusive behaviour’ under Section 38, The Criminal Justice and Licencing (Scotland) Act 2012 and for ‘failure to give details as a witness’ under the Court Section 13–14, The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. However, initially David wasn’t even charged: instead, he was taken to the police station, where he was made to wait for 9 hours, and was subjected to anal cavity search.
David is a member of Class War Scotland. He says that ‘It was done to humiliate me, because they were obviously aware of my political standing which is anarchist’.
David’s trial took place mid- January at Glasgow Sheriff Court and the case has been adjourned till June. If David is found guilty, he plans to seek the help of Amnesty International and to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
David McHarg is invoking his Article 10 right to ‘freedom of expression’ under the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 10 protects the right to hold ones own opinions and to express them freely ‘without government interference’ This includes the right to express your views in public (for example through public protest and demonstrations) or through published articles, books, leaflets, television or radio broadcasting works of art, and the internet and social media.
It isn’t the first time the cops interfere with Article 10. Another similar case occurred in 2010 during the Parliamentary Elections, when officers invaded David Hoffman’s home in East London and insisted on the removal of a poster displayed on his front window showing the face of David Cameron with the word “WANKER” printed underneath. The civil case took place in the High Court. David Hoffman claimed that this treatment amounted to an unlawful interference with his Article 10 right to ‘freedom of expression’ under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Metropolitan Police accepted Hoffman’s claim and provided him a letter of apology.
According to NETPOL (The Network for Police Monitoring), “Powers given to the police to deal with anti-social behaviour are increasingly being used to gather information on participants in political protest.” In the same article it is also stated that over the years the police have misconstrued a wide variety of protest activity, including demonstrations, handing out leaflets and sit-down protests, as ‘anti-social behaviour’. This operation is constantly used to obtain the names and addresses of those taking part, and David McHarg is yet another victim of such policy.
Pic: Class War Scotland