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andrew beckett | 08.05.2006 10:01 | Anti-militarism | Repression | London | South Coast


DATE: 7th May 2006


Press Contact: Andrew Beckett or Sarah Johnson
07875 708873



The attempt by arms manufacturers EDO MBM to restrict
protest outside their Brighton factory has ended in
expensive failure. Their attempt to secure a
no-protest exclusion zone with an injunction under the
Protection from Harassment Act has ended in
unconditional surrender after a year-long High Court
battle. The case is estimated to have cost the
upwards of £1 million and this week US parent company
EDO Corp announced 2.7 million dollars losses this
year and citing losses from legal actions as a
contributing factor. EDO MBM will pay the protesters
costs, expected to be tens of thousands of pounds.

Big questions remain over the handling of the case.
What has come to light is a behind-the-scenes deal
between EDO MBM, their lawyer Timothy Lawson
Cruttenden (the solicitor responsible for the
injunction restricting protests outside the Oxford
Primate Lab), Sussex Police and possibly the National
Extremism Tactical Co-ordinating Unit.

Andrew Beckett press spokesman for SMASH EDO said, ‘We
were accused of harassment by EDO, and Sussex Police,
who secured an interim injunction on trumped-up
evidence, but it must be clear to the world after the
collapse of the injunction and the dropping of so many
criminal cases that we are ones who
have been
harassed, and it is they in who have been harassing

EDO brought the injunction claim against 14 protesters
and two protest groups in April 2005, and by bringing
spurious evidence into the case were able to get an
interim injunction against all protesters (i.e any
member of the public campaigning outside the factory,
regardless of their conduct).

The defendants argued consistently that the use of the
Protection from Harassment Act to restrict protest
infringed their rights under articles 10 and 11 of the
ECHR. This was
dramatically illustrated by the imprisonment on remand
of two protesters for alleged breaches of the
injunction last summer. Both cases were subsequently
dropped before reaching court. Protesters were placed
under threat of five years imprisonment for any breach
of the injunction terms that prohibited simple acts
such as standing in the road.

two-week trial date that had been fixed for 21st
November was then lost because of the delaying tactics
of EDO and their legal team. Judge Walker expressed
“grave concerns” about possible “bad faith” on the
part of EDO. The defendants complained about this in a
counter attack that detailed evidence of EDO lawyer
Tim Lawson-Cruttenden’s abuse of the legal process.

To try and head off these damaging claims by the
defence team and realising the danger of losing this
important argument, EDO Corp flew in their
Vice-president and General Counsel Lisa Palumbo to try
and settle the case out of court. Those defendants who
were represented by publicly funded lawyers had no
choice but to accept the generous settlement offer or
as it spelled the end for legal aid funding, but the
three litigants in person who did not rely on public
funding refused the deal as it involved signing
undertakings that placed restrictions on their

The first litigant in person Ceri Gibbons who had
joined the case voluntarily to defend his right to
protest, was then offered discontinuance and full
costs without condition of an undertaking, and he was
released from the case on February 13th 2006. Since
the injunction against all protesters had been
narrowed only to included named defendants, and EDO
had withdrawn all allegations against him personally,
the basic human rights battle had been won.

The remaining two defendants Chris Osmond and Lorna
Marcham then continued the legal ‘abuse of process’
attack against EDO which they eventually won. EDO had
clearly expected that after the settlement the
resulting absence of defence lawyers, and the new
arrival of a QC and improved legal team working for
them to prove too intimidating for the litigants in
person to fight. In the event they put their case
without lawyers and Judge
Walker’s ruling condemned
EDO’s “negligent and unprofessional conduct” in the
case, and also blamed former managing director of EDO
MBM David Jones for the way the case had not been
prepared more quickly for a full trial. David Jones
resigned on December 31st 2005 for undisclosed

Meanwhile in Brighton peace protesters facing criminal
charges for alleged incidents related to protests at
EDO’s factory have had dozens of cases dropped by the
CPS after a pivotal case in January where a District
Judge brought in from Surrey had ruled that documents
concerning police communications with EDO before the
injunction was brought, should be opened to public
scrutiny. Criminal Defence solicitor Lydia Dagostino
of Kelly’s Solicitors,who had demanded that an outside
judge deal with the case, said that there was likely
to be evidence that implied improper relations between
Sussex Police
and EDO and it was
possible that arrests of protesters
were made to provide an atmosphere of disorder to
convince a high court judge to give the injunction.

The CPS documents could have supported this argument
if they had been released. The CPS now face the
prospect of having to drop all further criminal cases
against protesters if they want to keep the documents
secret. Many protesters believe they contain further
evidence of a deliberate covert operation involving
Sussex Police, the National Extremist Tactical
Co-ordination Unit (NETCU), EDO
Corporation, and Lawson-Cruttenden and Co. to suppress
protests at the factory.

In the year-long High Court case it was that Chief
Inspector Kerry Cox of Sussex Police had changed her
witness statement to exaggerate her view of the
anticipated threat by protesters to company employees
after direct pressure from EDO’s lawyer Tim
Lawson-Cruttenden. The altered statement
instrumental in gaining EDO an interim injunction
against protesters
that restricted their human rights.

The collapse of the EDO injunction case and also the
23 criminal charges against anti-EDO protesters cast a
shadowover all similar injunction cases against animal
rights protesters, as it highlights a shady practice
by police and court officers in a political operation
to suppress freedom of __expression, acting in a manner
that is clearly an abuse of the powers of the state
over political activity, but has been supported
by the highest levels of the government.

Notes for Journalists

Brighton & Hove is a UN Peace Messenger City

The injunction referred to was served under the 1997
Protection from Harassment Act (originally designed to
protect women from stalkers) and is the first of its
kind directed at activists outside of the animal
rights movement.
Crucially it is a civil injunction
but carries criminal penalties. It affects anyone
deemed to be a protestor. Initially EDO/MBM requested
a large "exclusion zone" comprising the whole of Home
Farm Industrial Estate.

They and Sussex police also wanted to limit
demonstrations to two and a half hours, with less
thanten people who had to be silent. Judge Gross
refusedto impose these conditions at the initial
hearing of an interim injunction, which was put in
place in the period before the full trial to be heard
at the High court in London from November 21st. In his
summing up he said, "The right to freedom of
__expression is jealously guarded in English law" and
consequently refused to impose the requested limits on
size, timing or noise made at demonstrations. He also
said that he doubted that protesters were 'stalking'
employees of EDO MBM.

EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole UK subsidiary of
U.S arms conglomerate EDO Corp, which was
recently named No. 10 in the Forbes list of 100
fastest growing companies. They supply bomb release
mechanisms to the US and UK armed forces
amongstothers. They supply crucial components for
Raytheon's Paveway guided bomb system, widely used in
the "Shock and Awe" campaign in Iraq.

EDO also withdrew a threatened libel action against
Indymedia over being named as "warmongers".

Lawson-Cruttenden & Co
Solicitors firm working for EDO have been instrumental
in developing the Protection of Harassment Act 1997
from a measure designed to safeguard individuals to a
corporate charter to make inconvenient protest
illegal. Theyhave pioneered to use of injunctions to
create large "exclusion zones". They have secured
numerous injunctions against anti-vivisection and
anti-GM protestors.

Campaign against EDO MBM
People involved in the anti-EDO campaign
include, but
are not limited to: local residents, the Brighton
Quakers, peace activists, anti-capitalists, Palestine
Solidarity groups, human rights groups, trade
unionists, academics and students. The campaign
started in August 2004 with a peace camp. It's avowed
aim is to expose EDO MBM and their complicity in war
crimes and to remove them from Brighton.

andrew beckett
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Display the following 2 comments

  1. Fecking Amazing — Auntie establishment
  2. bombmaking surrender monkeys — ...