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Court agrees: Haw's conditions were "absurd"

Mark Wallinger's “State Britain” installation, a loving recreation of the whole forty metres of Brian Haw's Parliament Square anti-war protest site in all its former glory, opened on 15 January at Tate Britain.

One week on, Brian was at Westminster Magistrates' Court to hear whether he had a case to answer for allegedly breaching conditions imposed on his demonstration last May.

Masterclass of absurdity

His defence had asked for the case to be thrown out on two grounds, and on 22 January, District Judge Purdy agreed with both.

First, the conditions were written by Superintendent Terry, who had no authorisation under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) to do so.

Secondly, the conditions were not sufficiently clear for Brian to comply. Indeed the Judge commended Brian's defence barrister, Ian McDonald's “masterclass of demonstrating the absurdity” of those conditions.

After the judgement, Superintendent Terry handed over an envelope containing new conditions - this time signed by an Assistant Commissioner - thus preventing Brian from re-instating his former display.

Ongoing cases

Also facing the court were two supporters, Maria and Martin, who had tried to stop police by climbing on a police freight container when the Met arrived at 3am to clear Brian's display last May (see cover story PN2472, June 2006).

Their trial for obstruction was adjourned for two weeks and it seems likely the prosecution may drop charges as the police now appear to have been acting unlawfully at the time.

In another court on the same day, Barbara Tucker and Steven Jago faced charges relating to incidents at Charing Cross Police Station when Barbara attended bail. She has been reported for summons under SOCPA more than seventy times, but the only case tried so far was thrown out by the judge “void ab initio”, which is a legal phrase denoting a case should never have been brought.

Barbara is wading through a string of pre-trial hearings, but continues her peace vigil around Parliament Square and Downing Street, although the police have failed to authorise it under the Act.

Updates can be found at: http://www.parliament-square.org.uk
Read Rikkis SOCPA court reports: http://www.indymedia.org.uk