Sussex

John Catt loses court case over protest data

  • 30 May 2012
  • From the section Sussex
John Catt
Image caption One entry said John Catt used a pad to "sketch a picture of the protest and the police presence"

An 87-year-old man from Brighton has lost his legal bid to force police to remove records of his political activities from their database.

John Catt had spent years protesting over nuclear weapons, Vietnam, Iraq, racism in the police force, poll tax and increasing tuition fees.

He had argued that he was not engaged in criminal activity and the retention of the data was unlawful.

The High Court judges ruled his human rights were not being infringed.

Mr Catt began legal action after he discovered details of his protests against Brighton-based arms factory EDO were being held on the police's National Domestic Extremism Database.

Lord Justice Gross said the data in question "is essentially comprised of records, or reports, made by police officers overtly policing demonstrations" of a group known as Smash EDO.

'Disorder and criminality'

"Smash ED0 is a protest group which has carried on a long-running campaign, calling for the closure of EDO, a US-owned arms company carrying on a lawful business and with a factory in Brighton."

He added: "Smash EDO stages regular protests. Although many people at Smash EDO protests do not commit criminal offences, disorder and criminality has been a feature of a number of the protests."

Rejecting Mr Catt's case, Lord Justice Gross said: "The compilation and retention of the reports were predictable consequences of Mr Catt's very public activities; they neither engaged nor infringed his right to privacy."

Acting on Mr Catt's behalf, Shamik Dutta said: "This judgment raises matters of constitutional importance and could impact upon anyone engaging in peaceful protest. Mr Catt has therefore instructed me to seek permission to appeal."

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