A top hat-wearing demonstrator who routinely protests against Brexit using loudspeakers and megaphones outside the Houses of Parliament in London has become the first person to breach new noise protest laws which came into force on Tuesday.
Police in Westminster seized amplifiers from “Stop Brexit Man” Steve Bray after they said he was protesting too loudly.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of officers swooped on Mr Bray, who appeared to try to stop them taking his equipment.
Mr Bray was told that under the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into force earlier in the day, that he was forbidden from holding a noisy protest within a designated area outside the Houses of Parliament.
The demonstrator is often in the area playing loud music in a protest sometimes coinciding with Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Bray was known as the Stop Brexit Man because he regularly used a megaphone to shout “Stop Brexit”.
He has become something of a focal point outside Parliament and frequently barracks MPs as they walk to work.
Andrea Leadsom MP tweeted today: "Steve Bray has spent six years screaming abuse through a loudhailer at me and many others as often as he saw us for the 'crime' of trying to fulfil the democratic decision of the UK to leave the EU. This action by police to stop his violent protest is very welcome."
Last month, one MP called for Mr Bray to be “locked up in the Tower with a loudspeaker playing Land Of Hope And Glory on repeat at maximum volume” because of the disruption he causes.
Dudley North MP Marco Longhi claimed that staff in his Westminster office could not hear “distressed constituents on the phone” because of the loud music Mr Bray plays.
Mr Bray hit back, telling the PA news agency: “You know what these Tories are like. They don’t want protests which is why they are stripping away our rights."
When asked at the time if measures to curb noisy protests would deter him, Mr Bray said: “Not in the slightest. We will carry on regardless. I don’t care how many times they throw me in prison, we will be back."
However, Conservative MP Robert Halfon has objected to the law banning "obnoxious" protests.
In an article for the Conservative Home website, he said: "Do I agree with Bray? Absolutely not. Do I approve of his activities? Of course I don’t. Does he suck up to MPs from the left and fail to ever challenge opposition MPs and their failings? Quelle surprise. Do I find him annoying? Who doesn’t?
"But, I actually love the fact that we live in such a vibrant democracy, that our Parliament is so accessible and such an individual is permitted to scream at all of us, morning, noon, and night. Those people watching Britain from afar can but marvel that Bray can shriek at ministers close-up as they walk to work."
Jesse Norman, an ex-minister, cited the law as a reason to oppose Boris Johnson's leadership during a confidence vote last month. "No genuinely Conservative government should have supported the recent ban on noisy protest - least of all when basic human freedoms are facing the threat of extinction in Ukraine," he wrote.
In social media footage of Tuesday's incident, Mr Bray, who was surrounded by banners and European Union flags, could be seen struggling with officers and telling them to get their “hands off” as they attempted to confiscate the amplifiers.
An officer could be heard responding: “You’ve already been warned not to turn it on.”
Mr Bray then demanded officers return a banner he said had been taken from him, before accusing them of breaking one of the amplifiers.
His hat could be seen falling off in the ensuing scuffle.
An increasingly irate Mr Bray could be later heard shouting at officers: “You fascists! This is not law! Fascist mouthpiece.”
In another video on his Twitter account, a police officer was heard telling Mr Bray he would be summoned to court over getting his amplifiers back.
Other officers could be heard warning Mr Bray he could be arrested if he continues using the speakers to play music in the area.
The Metropolitan Police has been approached for comment.