London meeting on Murdoch scandal banned


And here is PT2.

By Paul Stuart in England:

Britain: Westminster council ban SEP public meeting in attack on democratic rights

11 August 2011

In an attack on democratic rights, an August 4 public meeting called by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) was banned on political grounds by management at Vital Regeneration who are contracted to run residents meeting halls by Westminster local authority, London.

The meeting, which was to present a socialist analysis of the phone hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, was to have been held in Fisherton Hall, a community hall in the Church Street ward, west London. The SEP is vigorously opposing this ban.

The SEP has held two previous public meetings at meeting rooms in Church Street and has become well known in the area. The first meeting was against the NATO bombing of Libya and the next on the need for a second, socialist revolution in Egypt. No complaints about the meetings, or the extensive campaigns preceding, were made.

The procedure and application forms used to book and pay for all three meetings contained no prohibition of political parties. But on August 2, Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Enterprise Manager for Vital Regeneration, which is contracted to run resident meeting places, informed an SEP member political meetings were banned.

When the SEP pointed out that there was no reference to the exclusion of political meetings in the contract, a new version of the hire agreement was forwarded with two clauses not in the original.

Now Clause 31 states that, “The premises are not to be used to promote the views of any political party or group, nor for the raising of funds for any political party or group. Vital Regeneration reserves the right to refuse hire if the proposed event is political in nature.”

Both versions of the hire agreement were dated 29/09/10, although the manager said the additional clauses were added “a month” ago. Later the same manager told an SEP member that on the allotted time and day of the meeting two community police officers would be placed on the door to prevent “unrest.” When challenged it was described as a precaution.

The following day an SEP campaign stall was approached by the head of the Church Street market wardens who demanded the name of the organisation and the names of all individuals on the stall. This, he claimed, was so that action could be taken if there were any complaints against those campaigning. After checking the details, he announced that the SEP was not on his list of organisations “banned from here.”

This series of incidents cannot be passed off as an overreaction by a group of overzealous council officials. The attempt to insinuate that the SEP is a threat to public order is particularly insidious.

The ban on the SEP meeting occurred only days after the counter-terrorist “focus desk” at Westminster’s Belgravia police station issued a leaflet to residents drawing an equal sign between people with “anarchist” sympathies and Al Qaeda terrorists.

Addressed to local people and businesses, the leaflet stated that anarchism “promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”

The UK Is Considering Censoring Twitter, Social Media After Huge Riots: here.

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