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Carol singing in Parliament Square December 21st 2005
Singing in the face of bad government

In a test of the ludicrous Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (which bans spontaneous demonstrations outside Parliament), the public were cordially invited to take part in a carol service in... Parliament Square!

Participants were warned that by turning up and joining in with this festive singalong they would, in fact, be breaking the law as the event would be classified as a spontaneous demonstration (of faith, hope, joy and/or religious tolerance).

Around 150 singers lawbreakers turned up to run through a selection of festive tunes in a good natured scene of defiance.

The police, perhaps embarrassed at the prospect of having to arrest a load of carol singers at Christmas, wisely decided to keep a very low profile and no one was arrested.

Those joining in with the singing included Maya Evans, 25, a peace campaigner who was the first person to be convicted under the act after she read out the names of soldiers killed in Iraq at the Cenotaph.

Candles and song sheets were made available to all, with donations going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

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Programme of carols:
Come All Ye Faithful
Away in a Manger
Little Drummer Boy
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Deck the Halls
Good King Wenceslas
The First Noel
Joy to the World
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Jingle Bells
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
(Message of thanks followed by a one-minute silence)
Amazing Grace
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Silent Night

Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Carol singing in Parliament Square, London, December 21st in protest at Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
Lawbreakers!

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About the Act:

Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 is a legislative sledgehammer to crack a nut - in this case, to remove the long-resident peace protester Brian Haw from outside Parliament and to control dissent.

Section 132 - Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament:
Demonstrating without authorisation in designated area:
(1) Any person who-
(a) organises a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or
(b) takes part in a demonstration in a public place in the designated area, or
(c) carries on a demonstration by himself in a public place in the designated area,
is guilty of an offence if, when the demonstration starts, authorisation for the demonstration has not been given under section 134(2).

A formal warning usually precedes any action, but the Police may arrest any person committing an offence under Section 132 of the Act and if found guilty that individual may be liable to a fine of up to 2500 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 51 weeks.

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

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