Since we're there, let's stay with the Hay Festival. The intrepid George Monbiot is promising us an attempt to make a citizen's arrest of John Bolton, due to speak at Hay on Wednesday. This is for Bolton's part in helping to launch the 'illegal' war in Iraq. I have four questions.
(1) Hasn't George been rather remiss in the matter of arrests up to now? I'm not suggesting that he, personally, should have to make all the arrests that are needed because of the putatively illegal war, but he might have essayed at least one or two before Bolton's visit to Hay. Any member of Tony Blair's 'war criminal' cabinet would have done. It's puzzling why Monbiot should have been so tardy about this.
(2) I'm assuming that a citizen's arrest requires not only reasonable grounds for thinking that the person to be arrested has committed the offence for which the arrest is being made, but also that it was in fact an offence under law. As a conscientious journalist, Monbiot is presumably aware that there is more than one view about whether the Iraq war was illegal and that the difference over this has yet to be resolved in a court of law. I would doubt that it is legal to arrest someone for what you merely hope might be judged to be a crime.
(3) Not any kind of expert on the legal authority that he's claiming for being able to carry out this arrest – namely, Section 24A of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 - I find some grounds nonetheless for doubting that he could legally make a citizen's arrest in this case. On a natural reading, Section 24A would seem to require, in order for a citizen's arrest to be legitimate, that it is 'not reasonably practicable for a constable to make it [the arrest] instead'. I can't see why a constable could not, quite practicably, arrest John Bolton.
(4) Does George Monbiot propose merely to invite Bolton to accompany him to a place where he can be held pending the decision of a court, or does he mean also, if Bolton declines to do so, to manhandle him or block his freedom of movement in some way? In view of the matter registered in (2) and (3) above, I should worry for Monbiot's own standing before the law should he go beyond the verbal invitation.