Freedom of speech comes at a price

A Freedom of Information request by The Times newspaper to the Metropolitan Police has revealed that the cost of policing the street meetings held by the radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and his followers has cost the tax payer almost £900,000. Prior to the Freedom of Information Act coming into force Scotland Yard had refused to discuss the cost of policing Hamza’s Friday prayer meetings. The police operation lasted 22 months.

Patrick Mercer, Conservative frontbench spokesman on homeland security, said the taxpayer was facing a huge bill for "allowing an extremist message to be preached on the streets of the capital".

Police spent £900,000 to give Hamza street pulpit (The Times, 24 January 2005)