Tributes have been paid to three British nationals who died when a Ukrainian plane crashed in Iran.
Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners, BP engineer Sam Zokaei and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board the flight.
They were among the 176 people from seven countries who died in the crash.
Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed just after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).
The airline said the plane underwent scheduled maintenance on Monday.
A Downing Street spokesman said the UK was “working closely with the Ukrainian authorities and the Iranian authorities” over the crash, and there was “no indication” the plane was brought down by a missile.
As well as the three Britons, the victims in the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians – including all of the crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and three Germans, Ukraine foreign affairs minister Vadym Prystaiko said.
Rescue teams have been sent to the crash site but the head of Iran’s Red Crescent told state media that it was “impossible” for anyone to have survived the crash.
Tributes were paid locally to Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh, 40, who ran a neighbourhood dry cleaners in Hassocks, West Sussex, and had a nine-year-old daughter.
Steve Edgington from the pet shop next door said he had known Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh for 14 years, and described him as a lovely, hardworking man who was good at his job and loved by staff.
Savvas Savvidis, 36, who rented a room in Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s home in Brighton, said he was a “super-nice person”.
“It’s so sad. Before he left we had a conversation, he told me that he spent all his life working, working really hard, and now finally he wants to start to enjoy life a bit more.”
Mr Savvidis described Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh as a humble man who loved his daughter very much.
The dry cleaners closed on Wednesday, with neighbouring businesses telling the BBC that staff were too upset to stay open.
Meanwhile, in a statement, BP said “with the deepest regret” that its employee Mr Zokaei, 42, from Twickenham, was among the passengers.
Mr Zokaei had been on holiday. He had worked for BP for 14 years and was based at the company’s site in Sunbury-on-Thames in Middlesex.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends,” BP said.
A friend of Mr Zokaei, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC they were “still in shock”.
“He was a highly accomplished person. Very clever and very friendly. Always smiling and full of positive energy. He will be sorely missed.
“He was always trying new adventures. He cycled and toured Europe on bikes a few times. He also loved travelling to interesting far out places.”
Also killed was Mr Tahmasebi, 35, who worked as an engineer for Laing O’Rourke in Dartford.
Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also listed as a passenger on the plane.
“Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news,” said Laing O’Rourke.
“Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time and we will do all we can to support them through it.”
‘Humble and generous’
Mr Tahmasebi – whose full name was Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi – was also a part-time PhD student at Imperial College London’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation.
A spokeswoman for the university said: “We are deeply saddened at this tragic news. Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi was a brilliant engineer with a bright future.
“His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come.
“He was a warm, humble and generous colleague and close friend to many in our community. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Saeed’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as all those affected by this tragedy.”
At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both said their thoughts were with the families of those killed.
A UK Foreign Office spokesman has said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the plane crash in Iran overnight.”
They said it was “urgently seeking confirmation” about how many British nationals were on board and would be supporting any families affected.
Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine, said her thoughts are with those affected.
Ukraine’s state aviation service has forbidden its national airlines from using Iranian airspace from Thursday, with the restrictions in place until an investigation into the cause of the crash has concluded.
Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran and Iranian state television both initially said technical issues caused the crash.
But the embassy later removed this statement and said any comment regarding the cause of the accident prior to a commission’s inquiry was not official.
Ukraine said its entire civilian aviation fleet would be checked for airworthiness and criminal proceedings would be opened into the disaster.
The country’s president warned against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until official reports were ready.
Ukrainian International Airlines said the flight disappeared from radar just a “few minutes” after take-off.
The Ukrainian national carrier said according to preliminary data there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board but its staff were “clarifying the exact number”.
“The airline expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims,” a statement said.
The airline, which is investigating the crash, said the aircraft – a Boeing 737-800 – was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.
There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline’s president said it had an “excellent, reliable crew”.
A statement from Boeing said its “heartfelt thoughts” were with all those affected following the “tragic event”.
There are several thousand Boeing 737-800s in operation around the world which have completed tens of millions of flights. They have been involved in 10 incidents, including this crash, where at least one passenger was killed, aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC.
This is the first time a Ukraine International Airlines plane has been involved in a fatal crash.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh said he has started 2020 “in the best way possible” after his spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton an unlikely point against Chelsea at the Amex Stadium.
The Iranian substitute, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, brought the home support to their feet in the 84th minute with an early contender for goal of the month.
“When I was about to go on, I had a feeling I could have an impact on the game,” he told Match of the Day.
“When I saw the ball, I just tried to hit it as hard as I could and the bicycle kick was the only option. I’m going to watch it a couple more times.
“It has been a really tough time for me. I have been training well and working hard to get my chance. Luckily, it has gone the way I wanted.
“2019 didn’t go as well as I wanted. I tried to end the year as well as I could and I’ve started 2020 in the best way possible.”
Cesar Azpilicueta gave the Blues the lead with his third goal of the season when he fired in from close range after Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy.
Brighton’s attacking threat was largely nullified by Chelsea’s defence, although aside from the goals they produced the clearest chances – both thwarted by the brilliance of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spaniard produced a one-handed stop to deny Aaron Connolly and then saved Neal Maupay’s low drive with his feet.
The point extends fourth-placed Chelsea’s advantage over Manchester United in fifth to five points. Brighton move up a place to 13th, above Burnley on goal difference.
Big blow for Lampard’s side
This result is another setback for Frank Lampard and his side, who looked assured of an eighth league win on the road this season.
Prior to Jahanbakhsh’s goal his defence had suffocated Brighton’s attack.
Having been accused of being sloppy at times this season, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James and skipper Azpilicueta were at their dogged best – rarely allowing an opposition ball to find its way into the six-yard area.
Youth graduate James shone the brightest, and manager Lampard has a potential diamond. Aside from providing support for his centre-backs, the 20-year-old was exceptional as an attacking force down the right.
Brighton’s Dan Burn will not want to face him too soon having left the pitch with a fractured collarbone in the 22nd minute following a collision with the England Under-21 player.
The Blues, however, were as poor as Brighton in attack, and keeper Mat Ryan had less to do than his opposite number. The only time he was called into action in the second half was to make a routine low save from Christian Pulisic.
Jahanbakhsh steals the headlines again
Tears of joy to a look a disbelief – what a week it has been for Jahanbakhsh.
A lack of first-team opportunities had frustrated the Iranian since he made a £17m move from AZ Alkmaar in July 2018, so the outpouring of emotion when he opened his Brighton account against Bournemouth last weekend came as no surprise.
Manager Graham Potter did not reward the 26-year-old winger with another start, but having watched his other attackers fail to make much of a dent in the Chelsea defence he threw on Jahanbakhsh in the 68th minute.
Connolly came close to beating Arrizabalaga with a low drive before Jahanbakhsh tried the more unconventional method and, with his back to goal, he found the Chelsea bottom right with a superb acrobatic effort.
Man of the match – Reece James (Chelsea)
‘Lack of consistency is a concern’ – reaction
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: “It was frustrating for different reasons.
“In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren’t ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession, but we just didn’t kill the game off.
“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game.
“In the end, the tactics matched up for both teams but they were better than us. We have to take that on the chin.
“[The lack of consistency] is a concern. It’s something we absolutely have to look at.
“We have to look at the game today. It’s a point, but I’m not happy with the performance.”
Brighton manager Graham Potter: “I thought our play was really brave and we got our reward.
“Everyone is delighted for Jahanbakhsh. He’s worked so hard and waited so long, and to have his freshness off the bench was the thinking and he popped up with a great strike.
“He’s had to be patient, but he’s got qualities and he’s getting his reward.
“I’m really proud of the performance. We need to carry that forward and get some more points.”
Brighton’s super subs – the stats
- Brighton earned their first ever point in a league game against Chelsea in what was their 10th match against them.
- This was Chelsea’s first away Premier League draw this season – the Blues had won seven and lost three of their 10 previous games on the road this term.
- Chelsea have scored more goals in 11 Premier League away games this season (25) than they managed on the road in the whole of 2018-19 (24).
- Azpilicueta has scored three goals in his last 11 games in all competitions for Chelsea, as many as he had in his previous 118.
- Jahanbakhsh became the fifth different Brighton player to score a Premier League goal as a substitute this season, more than any other side in the competition.
- Despite only coming on as a 68th-minute substitute, no Brighton player had more shots (three) or created more chances (three) than goalscorer Jahanbakhsh.
Brighton are at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday (15:01 GMT) and the following day Chelsea host Nottingham Forest in the competition (14:01 GMT).
Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.
Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.
Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.
“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.
Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.
“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”
Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.
But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.
“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.
“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.
“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.
“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”
Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.
There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.
Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.
Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.
“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”
A man has been jailed for murdering a 14-year-old boy in a targeted “violent and frenzied” attack.
Jaden Moodie was knocked off a moped and repeatedly stabbed by rival gang member Ayoub Majdouline in Bickley Road, Leyton, in January.
The drug dealer was found guilty of the murder on 11 December after his DNA was found on the murder weapon.
Majdouline, 19, of Wembley, was sentenced at the Old Bailey to life with a minimum term of 21 years.
Jaden was the youngest murder victim in London this year.
Sentencing Majdouline, Judge Richard Marks said he could not “ignore the evidence” about Jaden’s drug dealing and other criminal-related history.
“That he became so involved starting at the age of 13 is truly shocking but none of that means he deserved to die, still less in the circumstances in which he did,” he said.
Majdouline was one of five men linked to the stabbing who drove around east London in a stolen Mercedes looking for members of a rival gang to attack on the night of 8 January, the court heard.
The group, linked to drug gang the Mali Boys, had covered their faces and two of them, including Majdouline, wore yellow rubber gloves to avoid being identified.
The killing was caught on graphic CCTV, which was shown at the trial.
Once the group spotted Jaden, he was knocked him off his moped by the car.
Gang members then got out of the car and stabbed him while he lay on the ground.
Jaden, who was dealing drugs for rival gang the Beaumont Crew, suffered nine stab wounds and bled to death in the road as the attackers ran back to the car and sped off, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement, Jaden’s mother Jada Bailey said her son was a “loving and caring, family-orientated little boy” and described his murder as “barbaric”.
Ms Bailey said she felt “let down” by organisations she had turned to for help.
She told the BBC she had complained to social services about her son being groomed by gangs, and moved 140 miles from Nottinghamshire to Waltham Forest in east London to escape trouble.
“No parent should have to bury their child before themselves,” she said.
The number of killings in London has topped last year’s total and is the highest annual number for more than a decade, police figures show.
The fatal stabbing of 47-year-old James O’Keefe in Hornsey on Monday took the capital’s 2019’s homicide rate to 142.
The figure, which includes murders and manslaughters, is the highest number since 2008, a year when the Met investigated 154 deaths.
The force said a total of 133 homicides were recorded in 2018.
This year’s figure includes 137 homicide investigations by the Met, two by British Transport Police and the two fatal stabbings at London Bridge last month, investigated by City of London Police.
More than half of 2019’s victims were stabbed to death and 23 were teenagers – the highest number of such victims for more than a decade – figures collated by the BBC shows.
“Each one of these cases is a tragedy, not just for the victims, their families and friends, but also for our wider communities who are left reeling by these acts of senseless violence,” a police spokesman said.
“Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Metropolitan Police Service. One homicide, one stabbing, one violent incident, is simply one too many.”
Jaden Moodie, 14, was the youngest person to be killed in the capital, in 2019.
Ayoub Majdouline, 19 and from Wembley, is currently on trial for his murder.
Jodie Chesney, who was stabbed to death in east London, was another teenager to die this year.
The 17-year-old was knifed in the back as she sat with friends in Harold Hill, on 1 March.
Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and Arron Isaacs, 17, of Barking, were both convicted last month of her murder, following an eight-week trial at the Old Bailey.
Danny Shaw, BBC Home Affairs correspondent
When Dame Cressida Dick took over as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 2017, she said her priority was to tackle violent crime.
But the number of cases of murder and manslaughter in London has continued to rise.
With almost three weeks of the year remaining, there have already been 142 killings, nine more than last year and the highest number since 154 people died in 2008.
Most of the cases are being investigated by the Met. The force said it was working “tirelessly” to help bring offenders to justice and take weapons off the streets.
Lib Peck, Director of the Violence Reduction Unit at City Hall, says the number of those aged in their 20s, who are injured by knives, is beginning to drop.
“We are really determined to route out the causes this terrible phenomenon and the importance is that we are really investing in preventative measures.”
London Bridge attacker Usman Khan attended two counter-terrorism programmes that had not been fully tested to see if they were effective, BBC News has discovered.
Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, on Friday.
He had completed two rehabilitation schemes during the eight years he spent in prison and following his release.
The government says such programmes are kept “under constant review”.
Three others were injured after Khan launched the attack at a prisoner rehabilitation event inside Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge.
Inquests into the deaths of Mr Merritt and Ms Jones were opened and adjourned at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.
The court heard that both of them died after being stabbed in the chest. The date for the full inquests is still to be decided.
During his time in prison, Khan completed a course for people convicted of extremism offences and after his release went on a scheme to address the root causes of terrorism.
The first course Khan went on, the Healthy Identity Intervention Programme, was piloted from 2010 and is now the main rehabilitation scheme for prisoners convicted of offences linked to extremism.
Last year, the Ministry of Justice published the findings of research into the pilot project which found it was “viewed positively” by a sample of those who attended and ran the course.
However, the department has not completed any work to test whether the scheme prevents reoffending or successfully tackles extremist behaviour.
There has also been no evaluation of the impact of the Desistance and Disengagement Programme, which Khan took part in after his release last year.
Government officials pointed out that the schemes have not been operating for long enough for the results to be assessed, but a spokesperson said all offender behaviour programmes were kept under constant review.
The spokesperson said: “All our offender behaviour programmes are monitored, evaluated and kept under constant review to ensure that they are effective in reducing reoffending and protecting the public.”
The Home Office “fact-sheet” on the Desistence and Disengagement programme contains eight pieces of “key information”.
But it omits the really key bit – that the programme has never been evaluated. In other words, we do not know if it works.
The same is true of the Healthy Identity Interventions course. Although the Ministry of Justice conducted a “process evaluation”, to check the pilot version was being run properly, we will not know for another two years if it is achieving results.
So, these schemes, like many other offender behaviour projects, are, in essence, experimental.
Some say the only way of knowing if they are any good is to try them out. Others argue the risks of doing that are too high, pointing to the once-flagship Sex Offender Treatment Programme, which was used for 25 years until research showed that it increased the likelihood of reoffending.
Rehabilitating convicted terrorists is as complex and challenging as it gets – but a little more openness and honesty is required about the methods that are being used.
A man who recently went through the same Desistence and Disengagement programme as Khan says the London Bridge attacker “shouldn’t have been let out of prison”.
The man – who asked to remain anonymous – was acquitted of terror charges but was required to wear an electronic tag.
Speaking to Sima Kotecha on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I had a mentor who came to see me at least twice a week.
“As time went on the authorities saw a change within myself.”
Asked why such mentoring worked for him but not for Khan, the man said: “I wanted to make a change.
“Other people may think that [terror] is the only route because they’ve been radicalised and that’s all they know.”
He added that “anybody can manipulate” when asked whether people could convince their mentors that they have moved away from extremism.
He said: “I don’t know his character, but anybody can manipulate.”
Khan, 28, was arrested in December 2010 and sentenced in 2012 to indeterminate detention for public protection with a minimum jail term of eight years, having pleaded guilty to preparing terrorist acts.
He had been part of an al-Qaeda inspired group that considered attacks in the UK, including at the London Stock Exchange.
In 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year fixed term, and ordered Khan to serve at least half this – eight years – behind bars.
Since his release from prison in December 2018, Khan had been living in Stafford and was required to wear a GPS tag.
Khan was armed with two knives and was wearing a fake suicide vest during the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London on Friday.
He was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.
Porter ‘acted instinctively’
Among those praised for their bravery during the attack was a porter – known as Lukasz – who tried to fight Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall.
He issued a statement through Scotland Yard on Tuesday, saying that contrary to some reports, he had used a pole to tackle Khan while someone else used a narwhal tusk.
“The man attacked me, after which he left the building,” he said. “A number of us followed him out but I stopped at the bollards of the bridge. I had been stabbed and was later taken to hospital to be treated.”
He said he was “thankful” that he had now returned home.
“When the attack happened, I acted instinctively,” he said. “I am now coming to terms with the whole traumatic incident and would like the space to do this in privacy, with the support of my family.”
He wanted to express his condolences to the families who had “lost precious loved ones”, he added, as well as sending his best wishes to “everyone affected by this sad and pointless attack”.
Two women were also injured in the attack. They remain in a stable condition in hospital.
A 14-year-old boy was knocked off a moped and then stabbed to death by a rival gang in a “violent and frenzied” attack, a court has heard.
Jaden Moodie was allegedly dealing drugs for a gang when he was targeted by a group of five men on 8 January.
Ayoub Majdouline was in a stolen Mercedes which was driven at the victim, causing him to be “catapulted” over the bonnet, the Old Bailey heard.
The 19-year-old, of London, denies murder and possession of a knife.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told jurors the five men in the car had armed themselves with knives and had gone to “great lengths” to hide their faces.
“On finding Jaden Moodie, the Mercedes drove straight towards the moped, swerving onto the same side of the road so that it struck Jaden Moodie head on,” he said.
He told the court the victim “did not stand a chance” and his crash helmet had come off when he was struck.
Three men then got out of the car and “repeatedly” stabbed the 14-year-old in a “violent and frenzied attack”, as he lay “defenceless and seriously injured” on the ground, the court was told.
“Fourteen seconds was all it took,” Mr Glasgow added.
Jaden was found with nine stab wounds and bled to death in the road, the jury heard.
Members of the victim’s family gasped and cried out as CCTV footage of the attack was played to the jury.
The prosecutor said the images showed the killers had “no qualms about playing out their petty rivalries using the blade of a knife”.
The Mercedes was abandoned in a quiet cul-de-sac, while a knife and a pair of yellow rubber gloves were thrown away and recovered from a nearby drain the next day, the court was told.
Mr Glasgow said the 14-year-old’s blood and traces of the defendant’s DNA were found on both.
Burnt clothing belonging to Jaden’s attackers was also found in a churchyard, the court was told.
Mr Majdouline disputes playing any part in the attack.
The trial continues.
A security guard who raped and sexually assaulted girls stopped for shoplifting has been jailed for 14 years.
Zia Uddin, 27, of Manor Park, Newham, east London, attacked four 15-year-old girls at the Kingston Primark in 2017.
He threatened to call the police and inform their parents if they did not perform sexual acts on him in the control room of the store.
Uddin was convicted of rape and four counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He has also been banned from working with children.
During his trial, Kingston Crown Court heard his colleagues had noticed his strange behaviour, which included making requests to delete CCTV and not properly completing paperwork on shoplifting.
He was also known to keep condoms in the control room where he attacked his victims, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
He threatened to call the police if they did not comply with his demands, it added.
Prosecutors said one girl only did as he asked because “there was no other choice” and it was the only way out of the situation.
Graham Partridge, of the CPS, said Uddin “preyed on young girls in a vulnerable situation”.
“Having worked in security, Uddin was also well aware of the CCTV camera ‘blind spots’ and took advantage of these in order to carry out his offending.”
After the sentencing a Primark spokeswoman said: “This has been a horrendous ordeal for the victims and their families and we are truly sorry for what they have suffered. Our thoughts are very much with them.”
An “angry pig” confronted engineers in a London street, delaying their repair of a burst water main before it was led away with a bag of crisps.
The pipe burst on Lamberts Road, Surbiton, damaging nearby railway equipment, which caused train delays.
Thames Water said their efforts to reach a valve to cut the water were initially hindered by “a large pig” which was “acting aggressively”.
It is not known what flavour crisps were used to lead it away.
Damage caused by the flooding of tracks and signalling equipment meant limited trains have been able to run along the line.
Disruption is currently expected to last until 16:00 GMT although Network Rail said engineers were carrying out inspections.
Thames Water said engineers “were quickly on site” to deal with the burst 120cm (48 in) pipe, but they had been unable to initially carry out the work because of the pig, which is thought to be someone’s pet.
A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.
The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.
But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.
Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.
The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.
The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.
During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.
Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.
Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.
“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”
The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.
During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.
Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.
It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.
“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”
The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.
BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford
This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.
But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.
Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.
So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.
If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.
Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.
Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.
He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.
“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.
“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”
What does Extinction Rebellion want?
Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.
The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.