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French publisher awarded damages by Met Police for abuse of terrorism powers at St Pancras International on 17 April 2023

Editions La Fabrique's foreign rights manager has been awarded damages after Met Police wrongly detained him in April 2023.

Verso Books 7 May 2024

French publisher awarded damages by Met Police for abuse of terrorism powers at St Pancras International on 17 April 2023

Dear colleagues


Just over a year ago, Ernest, our foreign rights manager, was arrested at London trainstation by British anti-terrorist police on his way to the annual Book Fair. Released after nearly 24 hours in police custody, all charges against him were eventually dropped, as an official British independent reporter established that his arrest under anti-terrorist legislation was unjustified. 

We have just learned that, following representations by his lawyer, Richard Parry, the Metropolitan Police has agreed to pay Ernest damages for abuse of anti-terrorist powers. 

As Richard Parry points out in his press release (attached), the echo given to this arrest, and the outpouring of indignation and solidarity it provoked, have resulted in this happy outcome. 

At a time when the freedom of expression of certain organizations, social movements and intellectuals is under threat, it reminds us that collective mobilization pays off: justice is done!

Let's hope that this costly retreat by the British authorities will cool down the censors of all kinds.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have given us their support in this affair, which means many of you.


All the best,

Stella Magliani-Belkacem

La fabrique éditions




Friday 26 APRIL 2024


We have today settled a claim against the Metropolitan Police for damages arising from Met Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) officers abusing their powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

The settlement is in a substantial sum, in 5 figures and includes our clients’s legal costs.

Our client, a foreign rights manager working for Editions La Fabrique, was on his way to attend the London Bookfair on 17 April 2023, when he was stopped at St Pancras International having disembarked from the Eurostar train from Paris. He cooperated fully in answering police questions, and the CTC officers present concluded that he was no threat to national security. However, they then went on to ask whether he had been on anti-government demonstrations in France, and demanded his phone and laptop for examination.

This demand was unjustified and our client was right to refuse on Human Rights grounds - his right to privacy (article 8), his right to freedom of expression and assembly (articles 10 and 11). He was nevertheless detained overnight, fingerprinted and formally interviewed the next day before being released on police bail while a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) seeking a charge under the Terrorism Act.

There was substantial international publicity at the time due to the potential implications for press freedom and the right to demonstrate.

In our view the stop was neither necessary nor proportionate and we therefore wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill KC, asking that no charges be brought. Concurrently, there was an independent investigation by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation (IRTL), Jonathon Hall KC.

In June 2023, the CPS declined to prosecute, as the evidential test had not been met, and ordered the police to return the phone and laptop. On 21 July 2023 the IRTL reported his findings, reaching a clear conclusion that this stop should not have happened and the subsequent detention for almost 24 hours was effectively unlawful. A copy of that report is available here:

The IRTL highlights that, despite his detention, our client showed dignified composure and good humour throughout. He made an important finding for the future that our client is keen should be acted on. He stated “additional safeguards are needed to ensure it is not repeated.This was an investigation into public order for which counter-terrorism powers were never intended to be used. The rights of free expression and protest are too important in a democracy to allow individuals to be investigated for potential terrorism merely because they may have been involved in protests that have turned violent.”

Commander Murphy of CTC confirmed subsequently that the case had been self-referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) but it does not appear that anything came of this.

On our client’s behalf we pursued a claim for damages for misfeasance in a public office and false imprisonment. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has now, happily, agreed to settle this claim without recourse to litigation.

With the financial compensation settled it is now time for a full apology from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Our client also seeks confirmation that the IRTL’s recommendations have been acted on, so that there will not be a similar case in future. The Code of Practice of July 2022 must be amended to make it clear to CTC officers that questions about attending demonstrations or public order are not part of their remit under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.


Saunders Solicitors Ltd

6 Snow Hill




Solicitor : Richard Parry