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Police praise DSEI tripods action

richarddirecttv | 21.12.2003 11:36 | DSEi 2003 | London | Oxford

Another DSEI tripods action court case

My court case last week for obstructing the highway at the DSEi arms fair on 1st September, allegedly with a very large tripod, was a bit interesting for two reasons.
Firstly, the comments of the police outside the court before the trial: the tripod action was - quote - "very impressive" and "highly commendable, really", because "they must have got them up in under a minute"!

Secondly, for the case itself. I presented in my defence the European Convention on Human Rights, article 11, clause 2, viz:

"1.Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2.No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State."

OK - it's a bit technical, but the last sentence of clause 2 does not countermand the first, and the whole convention reinterprets existing British law, including on obstruction of the highway.
The ECHR has never been intorduced to defend an obstruction case (as far as I know), but it would seem that the only thing the police could argue to restrict our freedom of assembly would be "public safety". Yet they admitted that the demonstration was highly organised and safe...... I may appeal on a point of law.

The other point was the "defence of necessity", that we were there to attempt to prevent a greater crime. I presented stuff showing that two companies present, including a British company, had already been discovered by investigative journalists attempting to sell landmines (illegal under international protocols). Neither has been prosecuted. In addition, at the Arms Fair itself, 27 out of 47 companies actually selling arms had no proper licenses to trade. This is not just a trivial bureaucratic issue - it is the licenses that are supposed to ensure that a company is trading lethal weapons legally. The police themselves were very concerned about this. I hope indymedia readers will tolerate another police endorsement of our actions, courtesy of Chief Inspector Stephen Lee of the Metropolitan Police Firearms Enquiry Teams:

"It is clear hypocrisy and double standards to have thousands of police stopping peaceful protests about the fair while allowing all manner of crimes to be committed inside."

Strangely, these arguments did not persuade the magistrate: guilty, conditional discharge, £150 costs.



Display the following 3 comments

  1. That happens all the time in courts — Stop Trident
  2. Are We Collating All This For Next Time? — Scrooge
  3. Thanks Richard — Paul