Peter Tatchell blasts Met Police for ‘outrageous’ coronation arrests: ‘They broke their promise’

Peter Tatchell King Charles

Veteran LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell has slammed the Metropolitan Police for arresting peaceful protesters at the coronation of King Charles III, saying it confirms “the police cannot be trusted”.

On Saturday (6 May), the Metropolitan Police arrested at least six peaceful demonstrators protesting the coronation of King Charles III, including the CEO of Republic, Graham Smith.

Smith was filmed sitting on the ground, surrounded by police officers after his arrest near Trafalgar Square, while other protesters were arrested while unloading ‘Not My King’ placards.

Tatchell, who was one of the organisers of the UK’s first ever Pride parade in 1972 and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights for more than 50 years, described the Met’s policing as “heavy-handed”.

According to Republic, the UK’s largest pressure group advocating for the replacement of the UK’s monarchy with a de jure parliamentary republic, the Met had not given them a reason as to why the demonstrators were arrested.

The Metropolitan Police came under fire earlier this week when they tweeted that they would “deal robustly” with “anyone intent on undermining” the coronation, despite criticism of the event’s cost to the taxpayer during a cost of living crisis – estimated to be between £100 million and £250 million.

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Prior to Saturday’s event, Smith said: “We have had two meetings with the Met police, and numerous phone conversations. They have repeatedly said they have no concerns about Republic’s plans.”

Despite this, The Guardian reported on Friday (5 May), that Republic revealed had received letters from the Home Office “warning them about new powers handed to police to deal with public demonstrations”.

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Tatchell said that arrests were proof that “the police cannot be trusted”.

“The police broke their promise that peaceful anti-monarchy protests would be permitted.

“They arrested the head of Republic and other protesters, confiscated Republic’s official placards, photographed everyone and erected huge barriers in front of the Republic protest so the King would not see us.

“It’s an outrageous abuse of police powers and an attack on freedom of expression,” the campaigner continued.

“This just reconfirms that the police cannot be trusted.”

The Labour MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome and Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis, took to Twitter to condemn the arrests.

“People must have the right to oppose having an unelected head of state, or more than £100m of public funds being spent on a coronation when millions rely on food banks,” Whittome, the UK’s youngest MP and outspoken LGBTQ+ icon, wrote. “These arrests should concern us all.”

Alan Rusbridger, editor of Prospect UK and former editor-in-chief of The Guardian, also spoke out against the arrests, tweeting: “People will celebrate many things today. But not this.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to protest peacefully against the monarchy. The police shouldn’t be locking people up.

“The King is supposed to defend our liberties. That’s what today’s about.”

At the time of writing, the Metropolitan Police have not confirmed the exact number of arrests made.

PinkNews has contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment.