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Accreditation changes agreed after Bahraini barred from Tory conference

29th Oct 2021

Hamed Chapman

Greater Manchester Police have agreed to policy changes improving their accreditation process after settling a legal case involving a Bahraini activist who was denied entry to the 2019 Conservative Party Conference.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, Director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), had been due to speak at a fringe event about his experience of torture during Bahrain’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising organised by British charity Freedom from Torture and Bright Blue think-tank.

Alwadaei had been due to speak alongside former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, and Freedom from Torture’s Chief Executive, Sonya Sceats, at the event entitled ‘An authoritarian turn? How Britain can best stand up for individual rights around the world’ on September 27.

But he was denied entry clearance to attend the Tory Conference by officers from Greater Manchester Police, who refused to disclose the reason for their decision, stating only that the organisers were informed it was a ‘police issue’ that was not disclosed.

He was even denied an opportunity to challenge the decision.It was not until October 6 that the case was settled against the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police with Alwadaei accepting a nominal sum for a flawed decision that had led him to be refused entry, according to BIRD.

The force recognised that their decision to exclude Alwadaei was unlawful and violated his rights under Articles 8 (2) and 10 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Articles that protect the right to expect “no interference by a public authority” in their “right to respect for his private and family life” and the right to freedom of expression, respectively.

In a statement, BIRD also said that Greater Manchester Police further agreed to introduce policy changes aimed at improving “the process of applying for security accreditation for access to secure zones at political events.”

The policy, expected to be published before the end of the year, will “include provision for representations from applicants before they are refused entry.” The police also agreed to pay Alwadaei’s legal fees.

“Being refused entry to the conference felt like an attempt to censor me, particularly as I was attending to discuss the UK Government’s support for the Bahraini regime, which has subjected me and countless others to horrific acts of torture,” Alwadaei said.

He added he was also pleased that his successful challenge will “improve the system so that nobody else is prevented from contesting wrongful decisions made against them.”

Part of his legal team, Daniel Carey, Partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, further welcomed that Greater Manchester Police “recognised the breach of the right of freedom of expression in this case and would now incorporate the due process into their accreditation policy.”

“As a result, there will be a better chance in the future that more marginalised voices will be heard when party policy is being formulated. And that can be no bad thing,” Carey said.

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