PROTESTORS have won their High Court battle after they were stopped by police from attending an anti-war demo.

Lawyers for half of the 120 passengers, many from Haringey, accused Gloucester Police of acting unlawfully.

The passengers were stopped six miles from RAF Fairford, stripped of protest equipment and escorted back to London, three days after war was declared on Iraq.

Activists are hopeful a High Court ruling about police treatment of anti-war protestors will lead to a change in the tactics used against them.

Campaigner Jane Laporte, of Tottenham, said: "Attending a demonstration is a basic freedom which everyone should enjoy if a society is to function as a democracy.

"We hoped the court would uphold this freedom, particularly in respect of a war so widely regarded as being waged on unjust grounds."

Both the police and protesters have been given leave to appeal.

A statement by Gloucestershire police said: "The court has made it clear the operational commander on the ground was lawfully entitled to turn those coaches away. In fact, it was his duty to do so.

"While the court has decided that it was very wrong for the police to escort those coaches back to London, they made it clear there was no basis whatsoever for doubting the operational commanders' intentions or motives in doing so. He was acting in entirely good faith."