Police raid on East London multi-arts complex Antepavilion declared unlawful by High Court

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A police raid on a Hackney-based arts space in June 2021, during which four people were arrested but later released without charge, has been declared unlawful by the UK’s High Court.

The focus of the raid was a bamboo and cabled temporary pavilion created by the organisation Project Bunny Rabbit, which was installed on the roof of Antepavilion, a Hackney-based arts and architecture charity. Titled All Along the Watchtower, the construction resembled protest structures used by the climate movement, Extinction Rebellion, but the work had no formal link with the group.

The Metropolitan Police unit entered the space, seized property and arrested four individuals, who were all released without charge.

“It won’t stop here,” says Russell Gray of Shiva Ltd, the building’s owner and Antepavilion’s sponsor of commissions. “There are still unanswered questions about the grounds for the action taken and who took the decision to act in this way.” He adds that filing a Freedom Of Information request is just one of the ways the organisation could seek further information.

The court order means that the police are now required to destroy any material seized during the raid on the premises at Colombia and Brunswick Wharves in Hackney. It also means that any property taken cannot be used in future criminal or civil proceedings, should they arise. Shiva Limited and Antepavillion have been asked to confirm details of any losses (both damage to property and any property taken which was not later returned). Within 14 days of receiving this information, the police service is to indemnify this loss, as well repay all court fees.

The raid was carried out under Section 18 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act but no information has been publicly provided as to the reasoning or grounds for the search. Video footage of the incident emerged online soon after.

The Metropolitan Police Service did not respond to a request for comment.

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