Churchgoer arrested 'for shouting "who elected him?" during proclamation'

·3-min read
Symon Hill and, right, the crowds at Oxford's Royal Proclamation event on Sunday afternoon Pictures: SUBMITTED/ED NIX
Symon Hill and, right, the crowds at Oxford's Royal Proclamation event on Sunday afternoon Pictures: SUBMITTED/ED NIX

A churchgoer said he was arrested after shouting ‘who elected him’ at the proclamation of Charles III as the new king.

Symon Hill, 45, told the Oxford Mail he had been pushed by three security guards before being ‘dragged off’ to a police van and his hands cuffed behind his back.

He was on his way home from worshipping at New Road Baptist Church, in Bonn Square, when he was faced with the crowds marking the proclamation of King Charles outside Carfax Tower on Sunday afternoon.

“I appreciate people have different views on it, I fully respect the right of those with pro-monarchist views,” he said.

“But I consider a head of state imposed on us without our consent that’s really an affront to democracy in 2022.”

He had not been planning to protest the event, he said. But as the High Sheriff read the proclamation, Mr Hill said he had said words to the effect of: “Who elected him?”

“Two people near to me turned to me and told me to shut up, which they have every right to do and I told them I didn’t think a head of state should be imposed on us,” Mr Hill added. During the ceremony, shouts of 'shut up' could be heard from elsewhere in the crowd.

Mr Hill claimed that three security guards had approached him and tried to ‘move’ him away. He replied that he was ‘standing on the public highway’ and asked under what law they were trying to move him on.

After he was allegedly ‘pushed’ by the guards, he said two police officers approached them. He claimed the officers ‘grabbed’ him and took him to a police van. He was arrested, handcuffed and placed on the back seat of the van, he said.

“I asked on what basis they were arresting me. They seemed a bit unsure,” Mr Hill said.

“Whatever view you take of the monarchy or the police, surely somebody being arrested has got a right to know on what basis he was being arrested.”

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, he made it clear he was not protesting the mourning of the late Queen Elizabeth. “I don’t believe in monarchy, that doesn’t mean I would mock somebody who had died.”

Mr Hill said he was ‘very shocked, very surprised’ to have been arrested.

"I have never seen a person being arrested on such a threadbare basis let alone experienced it myself," he said.

“I was surprised the police dragged me off then, when I realised they were arresting me, I was even more surprised.”

“I feel very surprised and very shaken and I feel like my free-speech and my dignity as a person have been attacked simply because I expressed an opinion.”

He said there was confusion about the law under which he had been arrested. He believed he had been detained under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act this summer.

However, a Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said that a 45-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of committing an offence under section five of the Public Order Act, which prohibits ‘disorderly behaviour’.

“He has subsequently been de-arrested and is engaging with us voluntarily as we investigate a public order offence,” she added.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward