William and Kate wedding protesters lose Supreme Court challenge over arrest


Royal wedding protesters have lost their Supreme Court challenge over the way they were arrested and detained by the Metropolitan Police when Prince William married Kate Middleton.

Cases were brought by a group of individuals who accused the Met of breaching their human rights and acting unlawfully and effectively ''suppressing anti-monarchist sentiment'' at the time of the wedding in April 2011.

But five Supreme Court justices have unanimously ruled in test cases that periods of between two-and-a-half and five-and-a-half hours some protesters spent in custody were lawful and justified because of police fears that they could be involved in possible breaches of the peace.

Dismissing the cases, Lord Toulson said in a ruling given on Wednesday: "The ability of the police to perform their duty could be severely hampered if they were not able to detain somebody for a short period of time in circumstances of the kind described."

The Supreme Court decision upholds earlier decisions by the High Court and Court of Appeal which both ruled the police action was justified and proportionate and the Met was not operating an unlawful policy.

Legal action was taken by 20 individuals who were among scores arrested or subjected to searches before or on the wedding day.

One group involved 15 protesters arrested at various locations in London, including at a Starbucks in Oxford Street, Charing Cross and those attending the Queer Resistance ''zombie picnic'' in Soho Square.

Their lawyers said the case touched on ''the most important of constitutional rights, namely the right to free expression and to protest, both of which are elemental to a properly functioning democracy''.

The appeal before the Supreme Court was brought on behalf of four people, as test cases, on whether the deprivation of their liberty contravened Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The five justices - Lords Mance, Dyson, Reed, Carnwath and Toulson - all agreed that the arrests and detentions were lawful pursuant to Article 5, which relates to liberty and security of person.