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Trial of DSEi arms fair protester - case thrown out

dv | 03.12.2007 18:15 | DSEi 2007 | Anti-militarism | Repression | London

The case of pensioner Gwyn Gwyntopher, who was being maliciously prosecuted for alleged 'trespass' at Custom House DLR station during the DSEi arms fair in September, was today thrown out of court by magistrates in east London on a legal technicality.

On the second day of Mrs Gwyntopher's trial at Stratford Magistrates' Court, with the court having heard the tape of the defendant's police interview, the defence submitted a plea of 'no case to answer', based on the fact that the prosecution had failed to establish that a) Mrs Gwyntopher had actually trespassed or done anything unlawful; and b) an officer of the British Transport Police qualifies as an agent or officer of the owner of the railway property (Serco, in this case) who could ask a person to leave the station premises if they were not doing anything unlawful, and if no such request had been made by railway personnel or the owner of the railway property.

After some deliberation, the magistrates agreed that indeed it had not been demonstrated that an officer of the British Transport Police was an agent or officer of the railway who could ask somebody to leave the station if they were not doing anything unlawful. Hence, the case was thrown out. The defence will ask for court costs and is considering whether to pursue the matter further.

Mrs Gwyntopher, who is a pacifist, had wanted to exit Custom House DLR station via the Excel centre, where the DSEi arms fair was being held, to leaflet international arms dealers outside. She wanted to try and persuade them to think about the victims of the arms trade. Officers of the British Transport Police had pounced on her very quickly at the exit to the station as she tried to negotiate access to Excel with security staff. There is a suspicion that the police action and subsequent prosecution were politically motivated.

About a dozen supporters were present in court, and there was also a protest and brass band outside the courthouse.

Previous report here:

More detailed report to follow (probably)

- e-mail: dviesnik at yahoo dot co dot uk