Critical Mass cyclist wins judicial review against Met Police

The High Court today (Tuesday 27th June) upheld a legal challenge to the Metropolitan Police brought by Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre on behalf of Critical Mass cyclist Des Kay.

Kay had challenged the Met’s claim that London’s Critical Mass Cycle Ride was unlawful and that cyclists taking part were liable to prosecution.

The Critical Mass Cycle Rides are part of a global phenomenon in which cyclists in more than 300 cities worldwide take to the streets once a month in a celebration of safe cycling. The London Critical Mass Cycle Ride has taken place on the last Friday of every month since April 1994.

Des Kay said:
“I am delighted by today’s judgment. Critical Mass is an important part of cycling in London. Cyclists in the capital, whether taking part in Critical Mass or not, need all the public protection they can get.”

Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre Solicitor Phil Michaels said:
“This is excellent news for Des Kay and for cyclists in London. The Court accepted our argument that the monthly rides are “commonly or customarily held” and so it is not necessary to provide advance notice to the police. That means that hundreds of cyclists can carry on celebrating cycling every month on the streets of London.”

The legal action was a result of a leaflet handed out by Superintendent Gomm of the Metropolitan Police at the Critical Mass ride last September. The leaflet, handed to cyclists at the ride, stated that “These cycle protests are not lawful because no organiser has provided police with the necessary notification. Your participation in this event could render you liable to prosecution.”

Lawyers for Des Kay, a keen cyclist and environmentalist from Kingston, argued that the monthly rides were not subject to the advance notification requirements [1] because they fell within an exception for processions that are "commonly or customarily held". In a judgment today the Court [2] found for Mr Kay ruling that:

“an unbroken succession of over 140 of these collective cycle rides, setting out from a fixed location on a fixed day of the month and time of day and travelling, albeit by varying routes, through the Metropolitan Police area, cannot by now sensibly be called anything but common or customary.”

The next Critical Mass cycle ride will take place this Friday starting, as it always does, at 6.45 outside the National Film Theatre on embankment.

[1] Section 11 of the Public Order Act 1985 [2] A divisional court of two judges; Lord Justice Sedley and Mr Justice Gray

Phil Michaels 07712 038890 Des Kay 07962 231830