Access no areas: the day wheelchair activists stopped the traffic | Letters

Prof Gerry Leavey remembers a 1990s protest in London’s Oxford Street – which ended up as a courtroom farce

Your feature on the BBC TV drama Then Barbara Met Alan (Let’s storm Parliament! The punks who risked their lives to fix ableist Britain, 11 March) reminded me of my first outing as an able-bodied activist for the Campaign for Accessible Transport in 1992, when we blocked Oxford Street to a mixed reception – but mostly to howls from enraged drivers.

It took an hour for the police to arrive and, of course, when they did, mindful of the negative publicity in lifting people in wheelchairs into police wagons, they first bundled me off to the nearest police station. Within a couple of hours, they nabbed everybody else – wheelchair user or otherwise.

A court appearance was arranged for that afternoon at Marlborough Street magistrates court. Picture the scene: two dozen people in wheelchairs, and no wheelchair access to the court! A farce ensued as court officials struggled to carry people into court. Gareth Peirce was the solicitor that day. She was wonderful. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the case against all of us was quietly dropped.
Prof Gerry Leavey

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Disabled man’s death after his benefits were stopped brings back sad memories | Letters
Letters: Jane Ghosh, whose son died in 2018, says the assessment process is severe, Dr Chris Grover says Errol Graham’s death was a social murder, and Amanda Theunissen is struggling to be grateful for a 25p pension increase


03, Feb, 2020 @6:51 PM

Article image
Failures lurk behind Sajid Javid’s war on drugs | Letters
Letters: The home secretary’s pledge to target middle-class cocaine users could backfire, warns Nick Moss, while Seth Gillman makes a case for the legalisation of all drugs. Dave Young thinks Mr Javid should listen to The Archers more


02, Oct, 2018 @5:28 PM

Article image
Contempt ruling against environmental protester is a crime against justice | Letter
Letter: The climate crisis is a much bigger nuisance than the jailed Insulate Britain activist David Nixon, writes Dennis Leachman

08, Feb, 2023 @6:20 PM

Article image
Climate activists are on the right side of history | Letters
Letters: The protesters are heroes, says Dr Graeme McLeay, while Thalia Carr says we shouldn’t be criticising those sounding the alarm on such an enormous crisis

22, Nov, 2022 @4:41 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on the ‘spy cops’ inquiry: secrets and liars | Editorial
Editorial: The undercover policing inquiry was on shaky ground before it started, and victims are right to be concerned


20, Nov, 2020 @6:23 PM

Article image
Counter-terrorism policy is a threat to democracy | Letters
Letters: Campaign groups including CND and Greenpeace UK call for the rescinding of an anti-extremism briefing document in which they were named, while Joe Sim says branding activism as subversive is nothing new. Plus, letters from Andrew Gold and Lisa Battye


21, Jan, 2020 @6:39 PM

Article image
Removing the statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid was a mistake | Letters
Letters: Jon Bloomfield on claims that the statue is an appropriation, because the artist is white, Lyn Howard on what the empty plinth now says, while Clive Sykes has a suggestion


17, Jul, 2020 @3:59 PM

Article image
Private schools can serve the public well | Letters
Letters: Headmaster Richard Russell thinks private schools can be engines of social mobility rather than privilege, while Helen Brown highlights the benefits for children with special educational needs


17, Jun, 2019 @4:40 PM

Article image
Wheelchair-friendly national parks | Letter
Letter: Barbara Gray sings the praises of the Lake District National Park, Cairngorms National Park and The Highland Wildlife Park


18, Feb, 2019 @6:42 PM

Article image
Should climate activists be punished at all? | Letters
Letters: Dr Abi Perrin wonders if it is ever justifiable for non-violent defendants to be jailed, Steve Tooze heralds a growing wave of activists, and Sue Davies laments costly, pointless trials

28, Feb, 2023 @6:07 PM