Troops "expected to defy" ban on attending "Marine A" march
Some media are claiming that some serving personnel are likely to defy a ban on serving personnel particpating in tomorrow's protest march in support of jailed "Marine A", Al Blackman. Inevitably there are differing views as to whether such a ban is appropriate. The writer, barrister, and RN reservist Frank Ledwidge put the case on Radio 4 against the ban. Another view was posted by the BAFF chairman on the Army Rumour Service website 'ARRSE':
"I don't blame the organisers of tomorrow's march for using the "ban" as the hook on which to hang their publicity. The same thing happened with the "Save 2 RRF" protest a while ago. You could argue that the order has been counter-productive from the MoD's point of view, but on the other hand personnel should be in no doubt that their participation is forbidden.
Two separate questions have been discussed here:
(1) Whether an order not to participate has to be obeyed. No-one should be in any doubt that it does have to be obeyed. It is a legal order so far as service law is concerned. IF the order is illegal on wider principles it is not a manifestly illegal order of the sort which requires to be disobeyed.
(2) Whether UK Government policy to restrict (not remove) service personnel's right of freedom of expression is in breach of wider legal principles, in particular - as long as we still have them - the Human Rights Act and the ECHR. (Ironic that some who support the march are likely to be vehement opponents of the ECHR.)
The MOD doesn't have the unlimited right to impose restrictions on service personnel without rational justification that they are necessary and proportionate. For example, the MoD has recently reaffirmed its recognition of "the British Armed Forces Federation and other such organisations as effective mechanisms by which the views of service personnel can become known", and does not attempt to prevent participation in forums such as ARRSE, subject to the well-known DIN. That doesn't mean that the MoD is necessarily right in its current application of such rules."
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