A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.
The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.
But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.
Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.
The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.
The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.
During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.
Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.
Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.
“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”
The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.
During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.
Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.
It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.
“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”
The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.
BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford
This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.
But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.
Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.
So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.
If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.
Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.
Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.
He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.
“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.
“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”
What does Extinction Rebellion want?
Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.
The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.
London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton has welcomed a critical report on the Grenfell tower fire, but said that the building “failed spectacularly”.
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the LFB and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.
A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.
Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.
He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.
O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.
‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’
After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.
He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.
The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.
In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.
The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.
However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.
Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.
“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.
“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.
She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.
During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.
There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.
A 15-year-old has been charged with conspiring to murder a schoolboy who was stabbed to death in the street.
Baptista Adjei, also 15, from North Woolwich, was attacked on Stratford Broadway, east London, on 10 October.
Police have charged another 15-year-old boy with murder, GBH and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.
The latest suspect will appear at Stratford Youth Court later, Scotland Yard said.
Some 50 households had to stay in emergency accommodation overnight after a burst water main flooded homes in north London.
About 250 properties including two schools were affected after a 36-inch (91cm) water pipe fractured in Finsbury Park before 08:00 BST on Tuesday.
One man was rescued from a basement while others had to be led to safety.
Thames Water said a temporary fix had been put in place and all flood water had been pumped away.
The water main burst at the junction of Queens Drive and Princess Crescent causing an area measuring about 600m x 200m (1,900ft x 650ft) to be flooded to a depth of about 1m (3ft).
About 12 fire engines and 80 firefighters were deployed to help rescue people and pump water away, while postcode areas N1, N4, N5, N7 and N19 were left with no water or low water pressure.
Tanja Schnitzer, who lives in a basement flat on Queens Drive, said rooms in the property had filled up with water “within half an hour from floor to ceiling”.
“It’s devastating. We’ve pretty much lost everything,” she said.
Water supplies for most properties in the area have been restored but Thames Water said air locks in the system meant some residents were still experiencing problems.
A spokesman for the firm said bottled water and plumbers were on standby in case of issues while engineers would finish fixing the mains during the day.
Woodberry Down Primary School remains shut but Parkwood Primary School has reopened.
Queens Drive, between Brownswood Road and Seven Sisters Road, has been closed to traffic.
Banksy has opened a “pop-up” shop in south London featuring the stab vest he designed for Stormzy’s headline act at the Glastonbury Festival.
A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon.
“I’m opening a shop today,” the artist said on Instagram. “Although the doors don’t actually open.”
A man stabbed to death at a London Underground station was an Arsenal fan on his way to a match, the BBC has been told.
Tashan Daniel, 20, was was killed in an “unprovoked attack” on the platform at Hillingdon station on Tuesday.
He had been heading to the Emirates Stadium to see the Gunners face Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao Cup, a source said.
It is the third murder investigation on the Tube network this year.
No arrests have been made over the attack, which Det Supt Gary Richardson described as “a shocking act of violence”.
He said the British Transport Police (BTP) investigation was in its “early stages”.
“We believe a group of young men were involved in an altercation on the platform before one of the men received a fatal stab wound,” he said.
Police and paramedics were called to the station in west London at 15:57 BST.
An air ambulance was also sent to Hillingdon, but Mr Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene.
Danielle Foster, who was driving past Hillingdon station at the time of the stabbing, said upon “hearing so many sirens, I knew something terrible had happened”.
“Lots of people were being turned away from the station as it had been closed,” she said, adding: “Then the police helicopter began circling the scene.”
Hillingdon station was closed by Transport for London (TfL) while police searched the area.
The station was closed for the rest of Tuesday evening and reopened at 05:45 this morning.
So far in 2019 more than 100 murder investigations have been launched across London by the Metropolitan Police and BTP.
Midfielder Jordan Nobbs is back in the England women squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Portugal after returning from a serious knee injury.
Arsenal’s Nobbs ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in November, ruling her out of the summer’s World Cup.
Manchester City’s Jill Scott, Chelsea striker Fran Kirby and Lyon’s Alex Greenwood are in Phil Neville’s squad.
City’s Aoife Mannion could get her first cap, while Atletico Madrid’s Toni Duggan is a notable absentee.
The Football Association says 23,000 tickets have been sold for the match against Brazil in Middlesbrough on Wednesday, 5 October, with the fixture in Portugal three days later.
Lionesses coach Neville, who guided England to fourth at the World Cup in France, said: “It will be great to be back in front of our fans again after two away matches.
“I know playing in Middlesbrough will mean passionate support and the big crowd we’re expecting shows just how much the team connected with the public in the summer.”
Full 20-player squad
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps, Ellie Roebuck, Carly Telford.
Defenders: Alex Greenwood, Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Aoife Mannion, Abbie McManus, Demi Stokes.
Midfielders: Beth England, Beth Mead, Jordan Nobbs, Jill Scott, Keira Walsh, Leah Williamson, Jodie Taylor.
Forwards: Rachel Daly, Fran Kirby, Nikita Parris.
The government is ready to fly holidaymakers back to the UK if tour operator Thomas Cook collapses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.
Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show contingency planning was in place to make sure no-one would be stranded.
But he dampened hopes of a government rescue bid for the firm.
Ministers did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”, he said.
Mr Raab said he did not want to undermine the rescue talks that Thomas Cook is currently conducting with its biggest shareholder and creditors at City law firm Slaughter & May.
The tour operator’s financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating in a refinancing plan in August led by its biggest shareholder, Chinese company Fosun.
But banks now want the company to raise extra funds and it could fall into administration within days unless it finds £200m.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, which represents Thomas Cook staff, is urging the government to step in with a bail out amid fears the company’s collapse could leave about 150,000 British tourists stranded.
Katie Prescott, business correspondent
This meeting is crucial for Thomas Cook’s survival.
If there is no agreement, then the decision to wind up the company will be taken at a Board meeting this evening. It’s likely (looking at the precedent of Monarch’s collapse) that any announcement about that will be made late at night, once all planes are on the ground. But the company doesn’t have to announce anything until the markets open at 07:00 BST on Monday.
It’s low season at the moment, the time of year when Thomas Cook has to pay its suppliers for the busy summer season just gone. Hoteliers are paid on 60 to 90-day terms, once travellers have already taken their holidays. The nightmare scenario is that hoteliers who don’t think they will get paid might turn out the people staying with them.
However, it is worth re-stating that the company is still trading. People are still holidaying with Thomas Cook. And while we can assume the company is reining back marketing activity around last-minute deals and offers, until any announcement is made, it is business as usual.
The foreign secretary said he did not want talk of contingency planning to become “a self-fulfilling prophecy”.
He told the BBC the government had learned lessons from the collapse of the Monarch airline in 2017. The UK’s consular authorities abroad were ready to assist, he said.
Brian Strutton, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association, said: “Ministers need to step forward and take responsibility for the sake of passengers and staff.
“There is a real risk that if the worst comes to the worst proper arrangements may not be in place for the repatriation programme and staff are still working while not knowing if they have a job or will even get paid for this month.”
A government spokesperson described the situation as a “worrying time for holidaymakers and employees”.
They added: “The financial circumstances of individual businesses are a commercial matter, but the government and the Civil Aviation Authority are monitoring the situation closely.”
‘Being held hostage’
Meanwhile, holidaymakers staying at a hotel in Tunisia owed money by Thomas Cook have reportedly been prevented from leaving the resort until it has been paid.
Guests at the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, said the hotel was refusing to let them leave because of concerns about Thomas Cook’s future.
Customers have reported that the hotel is asking visitors to pay extra money amid fears it will not be paid what it is owed by the tour operator for bookings.
Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio 5 Live the hotel demanded all guests who were due to leave go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.
Security guards closed the hotel’s gates as guests refused to pay the extra fee, Mr Farmer claims.
He told the Stephen Nolan show: “I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage.”
Thomas Cook customers have been reminded on social media that they have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – “in the event that Thomas Cook goes into administration”.
The travel firm also reassured customers on Saturday night that flights continue to operate as normal.
One of the world’s largest travel companies, Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 to operate temperance day trips, and now has annual sales of £9bn.
It employs 22,000 staff, 9,000 of whom are in the UK, and serves 19 million customers a year in 16 different countries.
There are currently 600,000 Thomas Cook customers on holiday, of which 150,000 to 160,000 are British.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has called on Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to help Thomas Cook “no matter what”, saying it would save thousands of jobs.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said “the government must consider stepping in and taking an equity stake to avoid this crisis”.
Chloe Hardy from Leicestershire is due to get married in Zante in October and booked the wedding package with Thomas Cook back in June 2018.
Chloe and her fiance will also have 33 family members flying out, with their trips costing more than £33,000 in total.
With the big day looming, Chloe is frustrated by Thomas Cook’s handling of their booking.
“We are unsure if we will be able to fly… This is causing great concern, worry and stress to all of us involved.”
In July, Thomas Cook produced a business plan saying that it needed £900m in refinancing, up from a previous estimate of £150m. The £900m would come from China’s Fosun, the group of creditors and some other investors.
The group of lenders then commissioned an independent investigation. Its financial advisers said Thomas Cook would require an additional £200m on top of the £900m already required, which would bring the total refinancing needed up to £1.1bn.
Thomas Cook succeeded in finding a backer to provide the additional £200m, but the BBC understands it has since pulled out.
The firm has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.
What are your rights?
If you are on a package holiday you are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).
The scheme will pay for your accommodation abroad, although you may have to move to a different hotel or apartment.
Atol will also pay to have you brought home if the airline is no longer operating.
If you have holiday booked in the future you will also be refunded by the scheme.
If you have booked a flight-only deal you will need to apply to your travel insurance company or credit card and debit card provider to seek a refund.
When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, the government organised to bring home all the stranded passengers, whether they were covered by Atol or not.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
A series of failings by the National Probation Service (NPS) contributed to the death of a five-year-old boy who was murdered by his mother’s partner, an inquest has found.
Alex Malcolm was killed by Marvyn Iheanacho, who flew into a rage after the boy lost a trainer in a park in Catford, south-east London, in 2016.
The inquest found the NPS failed to share vital information about him.
Alex’s mother Liliya Breha said the “systems meant to protect us did not”.
The inquest, led by senior coroner Andrew Harris at Southwark Coroner’s Court, concluded on Thursday that a “series of individual failures by the NPS probation officers, coupled with inadequate support and supervision” contributed to Alex’s death.
Iheanacho, of Hounslow in west London, had just been released from prison when he started going out with Ms Breha in early 2016.
In November that year he went to Mountsfield Park with Alex where he flew into a rage after the boy lost a trainer.
Alex died in hospital two days later and the inquest recorded a head injury as the cause of his death.
Iheanacho was convicted of his murder in 2017 and jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years, which was later increased to a minimum of 21.
Under his release conditions, Iheanacho should not have had any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16 and should have notified his probation officer of any relationships and changes of address.
But the inquest heard he broke those conditions without consequences, even though this would have been grounds for recall to prison.
The NPS failed to ensure his violent history with women was shared with Ms Breha and wrongly classified the “manipulative high risk offender” as a level one risk category instead of three, the inquest found.
The Ministry of Justice, which oversees the NPS, has apologised “unreservedly”.
A spokesperson said: “Our deepest condolences remain with the victim’s family, and we apologise unreservedly for the unacceptable failings in this case – we will now carefully consider the coroner’s findings.
“In the three years since Alex’s tragic death, the NPS in London has undertaken a huge programme of work to improve standards and better protect the public.”
But Ms Breha said her son “didn’t have to die for system failures to be identified and for people to start to do their jobs properly”.
“Alex was my heart beat and I miss him so much. He should be here right now going to school, playing with his friends,” she said.
“Someone took this away from him for no reason and the systems meant to protect us did not.”