Bindmans instructed to send letter to Counter-Terrorism Police

XR Peace has joined a wide range of groups represented by Bindmans LLP, who have today sent a letter to the Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre objecting to their inclusion of their organisations and movement in the a ‘Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre (CTPNOC) Intelligence Signs & Symbols Guidance Document’ June 2019 (the ‘CTP Guidance’). The existence of this Guidance was first reported by the Guardian on Friday 17 January 2020.

XR Peace Action Coordinator Angie Zelter said “XR Peace have joined with other peaceful citizens groups to challenge the inclusion of Extinction Rebellion in the police counter-terrorism gudidance. Any suggestion that XR activists are terrorists must be challenged. Each of us make a core commitment to nonviolence at the heart of all of our actions.”

“We are not terrorists. But, in the face of the extreme risk now posed to the future of life on earth XR Peace rebels do take bold and brave actions that sometimes disrupt ongoing everyday activities. We take these extraordinary actions, sometimes risking imprisonment, in order to call attention to the urgency of the climate crisis and the role of militarism and war in that.”

The groups listed in the CTP Guidance currently instructing Bindmans are Animal Aid; Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Extinction Rebellion Peace; Trident Ploughshares; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a representative of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

The CTP Guidance lists organisations deemed to fall within the following sub-categories: (1) Right Wing: including White Supremacist and White Nationalist; (2) Left Wing; (3) Animal Rights; and (4) Environmental.

There is, however, no attempt in the document to explain the reason for the inclusion of our clients or any other groups within the document. Moreover, the CTP Guidance implies that at least some of the activity conducted by all of the organisations listed is unlawful and that involvement with or support of such groups might be relevant to counter-terrorism, extremism or radicalisation.

It is not known to what extent the CTP Guidance has been shared nor in what context, but it is anticipated that it has been in circulation for over 6 months and that it has been shared widely including with the NHS, schools, universities, and social workers at local authorities. We are aware of at least one example of a primary school referring to the CTP Guidance on its’ website on a page discussing ‘Safeguarding and Child Protection’, where it is listed under the heading “Preventing extremism and radicalisation”.

Jamie Potter of Bindmans LLP has said:
“Our clients are peaceful organisations focused on lawful protest and engagement to pursue their legitimate aims. They are deeply concerned by the decision to list their organisations and movement in the CTP Guidance. They are also aware of numerous other organisations that share their concerns. Individuals affiliated with these organisations may have been referred to the Counter-Terrorism Policing National Operations Centre programmes including, but not limited to Prevent, as a result of their support and/or membership of these organisations and movement.

We invite Counter-terrorism Police to immediately acknowledge the unlawful inclusion of these groups within the CTP Guidance, apologise and take urgent steps to retract the guidance and clarify that that our clients, and other organisations, are of no interest to counter-terrorism police and have no involvement in extremism or radicalisation.”

In the House of Commons today (22 January) Minister for Immigration Brandon Lewis said: The Home Office “has oversight of the police on behalf of the home secretary. We are clear that the right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our just society and an indispensable channel of political and social expression.”

Jane Tallents, a Coordinator of XR Peace said “We welcome the Minister’s affirmation of the right to peaceful protest. However, at a time when we are facing twin existential threats to humanity and the planet we need lots of people to join in creative nonviolent action demanding government act now to reverse climate change and get rid of nuclear weapons.”

“As part of XR Peace we resisted the Metropolitan Police attempt to shut down Extinction Rebellion protests using a Section 14 Order. Not only will we continue to protest we will also actively challenge this latest attempt and all such attempts to stifle peaceful protest.”