Police approve backs-to-Thatcher protest during funeral procession
The Guardian in London
Police have given approval for protesters to turn their backs tomorrow as the coffin of Margaret Thatcher proceeds through London to St Paul's Cathedral.
Scotland Yard has repeatedly asked people planning demonstrations to let it know in advance, warning that anyone causing "harassment, alarm or distress" could be arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act.
Rebecca Lush Blum, 41, from Hampshire, southern England, who has set up a Facebook event calling on people to turn their backs on the procession, said she had been reassured by the police that her protest could go ahead near the Royal Courts of Justice.
The prospect of high-profile protests being beamed around the world during tomorrow's funeral has raised concern among senior Tories. Former Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit described the protesters as "mindless bigots" but said that, provided they were obeying the law, the police had no option.
"The people who hold our views, and who are not mindless bigots, won't allow their behaviour to provoke us into words or behaviour which could be seen as a breach of the peace," he said.
Several Facebook groups have sprung up since the former prime minister died calling on people to show their objections to her legacy and the scale of the funeral, but on Sunday night police refused to say how many other demonstrations had been sanctioned.
Blum wrote to the London Metropolitan police (Met) and then spoke to an officer involved in planning for the funeral who reassured her that the Met were happy for her protest to go ahead.
"It is the first time I have ever asked for permission to protest but I am a working mum now and I just can't afford to be … arrested and miss the school pickup. He was very reassuring and we agreed a point near the beginning of the route where I can stage the protest."
Blum's Facebook event is one of several urging people to turn their backs on the procession. One group, Maggie's Good Riddance Party, plans to hold a "right jolly knees-up" outside St Paul's.