02/06/2021

PPS Will Not Prosecute Black Lives Matter Protestors

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has confirmed it will not be prosecuting in relation to all suspects reported in connection with attendance at Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in June 2020.

A total of 14 suspects were reported to the PPS for consideration of potential offences under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 at one or more of three BLM protests held in L'Derry and Belfast whilst Government restrictions were in place last summer.

The decisions not to prosecute relate to:

• Three individuals reported in connection with a protest held outside Belfast City Hall on 3rd June 2020

• Seven individuals reported in connection with a protest held at Custom House Square, Belfast, on 6th June 2020

• One further individual reported in connection with both of the above protests

• Three individuals reported in connection with a protest held in Guildhall Square, Derry, on 06 June 2020.
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After careful consideration of all evidence reported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on six files relating to the 14 individuals, it was concluded that the Test for Prosecution was not met in respect of any suspect on evidential grounds.

Assistant Director Martin Hardy said: "Decision making on this file included consideration of a range of complex and novel legal issues arising from the Coronavirus Regulations in place at the time of these protests and relevant human rights considerations. It also involved a careful analysis of the particular circumstances of these protests and the conduct of the individuals reported.

"The evidence received from police was subjected to an impartial and independent application of the Test for Prosecution, in line with the PPS Code for Prosecutors. The prosecution team was also assisted by advice received from independent Senior Counsel.

"It was concluded that, in respect of each of the 14 individuals reported, there was no reasonable prospect of conviction for any offence. This was on the basis that the evidence would allow the suspects to successfully raise the statutory defence of reasonable excuse. In these circumstances the Test for Prosecution was not met."

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