This Delegate Meeting expresses its deep concern at the arrest of Ernest M on 18 April 2023. Ernest is the foreign rights manager for the French publisher Editions La Fabrique and had travelled to London by Eurostar for the London Book Fair.
On arrival at St Pancras Station, he was detained by British police officers acting under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and questioned without a solicitor present. The police officers claimed that he had participated in demonstrations in France as a justification for the detainment and demanded that he give up his phone, laptop and pass codes. On the morning of 18 April 2023, Ernest was formally arrested and transferred to a police station.
While in custody, Ernest was questioned for several hours and questions included: his point of view on the pension reform in France, on the French government, on President Emmanuel Macron, his opinion on the Covid crisis and most seriously, he was asked to name the “anti-government” authors in the catalogue of the publishing house for which he works.
This DM believes that the police’s actions are a clear threat to media freedom and to freedom of expression. Although released, Ernest’s phone and laptop remain in the hands of the British police who will extract all the data to analyse and exploit it, and he is required to return to London to surrender to custody on 16 May. This DM notes that the union has written to the Metropolitan Police commissioner to protest about the arrest and confiscation of his work equipment and to ask why the police acted this way.
This DM also notes that 12 MEPs have now written to the Home Secretary to express their outrage at the “scandalous treatment”.
This Delegate Meeting instructs the NEC to continue the demands for all proceedings and prosecutions against Ernest M to be dropped, the withdrawal of the requirement to surrender to custody on 16 May and his phone and laptop be returned immediately.