Silenced at last? Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray has his loudspeaker confiscated by police

·2 min read
Steve Bray may no longer be able to boom his message across Westminster after his loudspeaker was confiscated - Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images
Steve Bray may no longer be able to boom his message across Westminster after his loudspeaker was confiscated - Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

Steve Bray, the top hat-wearing anti-Brexit protester, has had his loudspeaker confiscated by police and been warned he could face large fines, after new laws on protesting kicked in.

Social media videos showed officers walking away with Mr Bray’s speaker as he shouted: “This is not the law.”

It comes as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 took effect, including a provision that allows police to intervene against noisy protest.

Previously, Mr Bray’s noisy actions had been protected as an act of legitimate political protest.

The former numismatist became well-known during the height of Parliament’s Brexit crises by wandering around Parliament Square ringing a bell and shouting “Stop Brexit!” at the top of his lungs.

A video uploaded to the protester's Twitter page showed two officers calmly explaining to Mr Bray that he was no longer allowed to protest noisily within the vicinity of Parliament.

He responded by saying it was his human right and challenged the police to arrest or fine him. “You slap all the fines on me you like, you know what I’ll say? Uh!” he said, while giving the middle finger to the police with both hands.

In another video, an officer told Mr Bray that he was being recorded on bodycam. Mr Bray responded by saying: “I’ve got a message for someone. Up yours Priti Patel,” while holding up a middle finger to the officer’s body cam.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 faced significant protest and opposition during its passage through Parliament.

The House of Lords initially voted to remove anti-protester provisions but was overridden by the House of Commons. A number of Tory MPs criticised the Bill, but failed to block its passage.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, criticised the Bill at the time, calling it “deeply authoritarian”.

However Ms Patel, the Home Secretary, defended it - claiming that it would protect Britain from “mob rule”.

The Act, a reaction to disruptive protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, also includes provisions that criminalise interfering with national infrastructure and obstructing transport networks.

The Metropolitan Police has been approached for comment.