Letter to Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP – RE: EDL’s visit to Leicester
Rt. Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP
Attorney General’s Office
20 Victoria Street
21st January 2012
Dear Mr Grieve,
As you may know the English Defence League plans to visit Leicester once more on Saturday 4th February 2012. The EDL has a proven track record of bringing violence, unrest and controversy with them to all the cities they ‘demonstrate’ within. The overwhelming majority does not want nor do they welcome the EDL to visiting their towns and cities. It is also an accepted fact that the EDL hold extreme views that are provocative and creates public disorder.
I accept, and we all must accept, the EDL’s constitutional right to free speech, even if such opinions are offensive and odious. We do have legal safeguards that addresses the issues of incitement, hate crimes and public disorder. The challenge is to balance this “two sided” coin of legal rights to free speech and the greater public interest of law.
The facts show that there have been numerous incidents of public disorder whenever the EDL has decided to congregate for protests. Such protests create an obligation to commit significant resources upon the police. In the case of Leicester, during October 2010, when the EDL came to visit, it cost Leicestershire Constabulary more than £800,000 to police the single event. This second event will create a further strain on our public finances and may lead to a long term negative impact of the level of policing in our city.
Whilst there may be legal limitations as to how such costs could be met, I would welcome your views in amending the current legislation as to the creation of a levy on those who wish to hold such demonstrations. I feel this point is even more powerful when we look at the costs of policing those demonstrations such as the ones held by the EDL which create a significant financial pressure on the police and the public.
As this is a matter of general public interest I will share the contents of this letter with our elected politicians and the police force.
I trust that you will give this issue your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
cc Edward Garnier QC MP Solicitor General