UK police express regret over coronation arrest of republican leader

British police have expressed regret over the arrests of the leader of an anti-monarchist group and five others at the coronation of King Charles, following criticism that the security response was heavy-handed.

London’s Met Police said they were sorry that six of those arrested at the event were prevented from protesting during the coronation on Saturday. They have had their bail cancelled and no further action will be taken, the police statement added.

“We regret that those six people arrested were unable to join the wider group of protesters in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere on the procession route,” said the statement issued late on Monday.

Police had claimed the arrests were made because officers found “lock-on” items – devices protesters use to lock themselves in position tactically so that police find it hard to remove them. But in their statement, police said they were unable to prove the protesters intended to use the items to lock themselves to positions on the coronation route.

The chief executive of the pressure group Republic, Graham Smith, who was one of the six protesters arrested, said on Twitter that police had apologised to him in person on Monday but he planned to talk to lawyers about taking legal action.

Republic said the items in question were intended for securing placards.

One man was also arrested for possession of a knife.

There were more than 11,000 police on the streets of central London for the coronation, the biggest ceremonial event staged in London for 70 years, and a total of 64 arrests were made.

While thousands lined the streets in London to celebrate the historic event, those protesting against the monarchy gathered near the Charles I statue in Trafalgar Square in the English for a “Not my King” rally. Similar demonstrations also took place in Glasgow in Scotland and Cardiff in Wales.

The civil rights group Liberty tweeted on Tuesday: “This embarrassing episode for the Met demonstrates the dangers of handing broad and poorly-defined powers to the police – who we know by now are all too happy to use and abuse those powers.”

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