A GROUP of MPs will investigate the arrests of anti-monarchy protesters during the coronation, it has been announced.

The chair of the Home Affairs Committee said there were “real questions” about the sweeping powers given to police under the Tories’ anti-protest laws, which were used to arrest six demonstrators from the Republic pressure group on Saturday.

Police said they had arrested them for carrying luggage tags with the force claiming they believed protesters would use them to “lock on” – a measure protesters use to make it harder for police to move them.

Dame Diana Johnson, who chairs the committee, said it would also seek to find out what guidance was given to police ahead of the coronation.

The committee will meet next Wednesday to examine the policing of the event, taking evidence from a number of witnesses.

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The Labour MP added that she believed the Metropolitan Police had co-ordinated a “huge policing operation over the weekend” which had been “very successful” at keeping people safe.

She added: “But actually that issue of how protests were policed is something that has raised concerns, particularly about the implementation of this very new act of parliament, the Public Order Act 2023, and particular section two, which is about going equipped to lock on, which seems to have been at the core of why members of Republic were arrested around the use of luggage tags.

“So there are real questions about that, and we think this morning we’ll need to look at that and decide whether we want to have that short inquiry to learn some lessons and see what the implementation of that act actually means in practice to frontline police officers.”

Johnson said the committee will be interested in reviewing how broad the legislation is and “what guidance was given to frontline police officers and whether there is an issue about training”.

She also said answers are needed on why more top-level discussions between Met chiefs and Republic in the months ahead of the coronation were not shared with officers on the ground, particularly when it came to the use of megaphones and luggage tags by demonstrators.

Her comments come after Met Commissioner Mark Rowley on Tuesday defended the arrests during what he called a “unique fast-moving operational context”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also backed the new powers, which came into force last week, saying it is right for officers to have the ability to tackle “serious disruption”.

Helen King, a former Met assistant commissioner, said it is “legitimate to ask questions” about the police’s handling of the protests but added that frontline officers do not have the benefit of hindsight when making on-the-spot decisions about public safety.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “For the frontline officer, they have a very difficult decision that they have to make quickly, usually with imperfect and partial information.

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“And those of us who have the benefit of hindsight, knowing that the coronation went off safely, that horses didn’t bolt, that there wasn’t a stampede, that nobody got seriously hurt, we’re in a luxurious position compared with the officer on the street having to make a decision there and then.”

King challenged what she sees as a “growing narrative” that “police don’t care about human rights”.

She added: “My experience is that absolutely the opposite is the case – every policing decision involves the very careful balancing of different human rights of different groups.

“And I think, in the case of the coronation, a unique operation, public safety was right up near the top and of course the right to life is the highest right of all.”