Brian Haw has passed away after “a long hard fight” against lung cancer. He set up a camp in Parliament Square in 2001 in protest against UK and US foreign policy. In March 2011, the High Court forced him to move his camp on to the pavement. A statement on his website from his campaign representatives said:
“Brian showed great determination and courage during the many long hard years he led his Peace Campaign in Parliament Square, during which it is well documented that he was relentlessly persecuted by the authorities which eventually took its toll on his health.”
“Brian showed the same courage and determination in his battle with cancer. He was keenly aware of and deeply concerned that so many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine did not have access to the same treatments that were made available to him.
“Parliament, the police, and courts etc, should forever be ashamed of their disgraceful behaviour towards Brian.”
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn praised Mr Haw for reminding MPs “of the consequences of their decisions”. Supporters at the camp have left his camping chair in place and his collection of bleak war photos at the site remains untouched. Mr Haw set up his camp in Parliament Square Gardens on 2nd June 2001, in response to sanctions against Iraq. His protest grew broader after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. At the camp, his chair and collection of war photographs have been left untouched. In April 2002, Westminster City Council commenced legal action to remove him on the grounds that he was a nuisance. The case never came to court. Later the same authority successfully limited the hours he could use a megaphone for but failed to remove his placards, which it claimed where an “obstruction” and “unlawful advertising”. In 2005, the embarassment Mr Haw single-handedly caused became too much for the Labour government. Legislation was passed banning unauthorised protests within a square mile of parliament but the court’s initially found in Mr Haw’s fabour because his camp had been established before the new legislation came into effect. In 2006 the Court of Appeal said that Mr Haw required police permission to continue the protest. Permission was given for a much reduced physical presence. Subsequently, the police tried to sieze almost all of his placards on the grounds that he had breached the imposed limits. The police told the courts that he had left the site open to terrorists but in 2007 a judge ruled that he had no case to answer. In 2010, he was charged with obstructing police during searches of tents on the green. After the court appearance, Mr Haw declared that he would remain in the square for the rest of his life.
In May 2010, Mr Haw was charged with obstructing police during searches of tents on the green. Speaking after a court appearance, he set out his intention to remain in the square for the rest of his life:
“We’re there because our country is committing infanticide, genocide, the looting of nations. I’m determined to be there until they kill me. How much longer will that be?”
This year, Boris Johnson won a possession order to evict Mr Haw and other campaigners from Parliament Square Gardens, which is owned by the Greater London Authority (GLA). The protest camp subsequently moved onto the pavement. The pavement is owned by Westminster City Council, which sought a removal order on the ground of obstruction. If that case is successful, the camp could be permanently removed.
Brian Haw was born in 1949. He worked in the merchant navy, ran a removals business and worked as a carpenter. He was an evangelical christian, who visited the killing fields of Cambodia and Northern Ireland during the Troubles. He also worked with youth in Redditch, where he lived with his wife and seven children before starting the camp in Parliament Square. He said the children of Iraq and other countries were:
“every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children”.
“I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again, knowing that I’ve done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government’s unjust, amoral, fear – and money-driven policies,”