In a ruling that surprised and thrilled defendants and supporters, after a day-long trial on 14 September, a Horseferry Road magistrate dismissed charges against five protesters under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) arising from the 2006 “No More Fallujahs” Parliament Square peace camp (see PN 2480-81).
The charges against Genny Bove, Rob Clohensy, Steve Barnes and Brian Barlow were not supported by the evidence, the magistrate found. David King's charges were dismissed earlier because he had been summoned for the wrong date.
The Crown Prosecutor could not demonstrate that the protest was in fact unauthorised, nor that the defendants were in the designate area, taking part in the protest.
The magistrate rebuked the prosecutor several times, saying: “This is not the way the Crown should conduct itself.”
“It's nice to have these moments of victory; it doesn't often happen,” said Gabriel Carlyle, one of the organisers of the protest. “It was entertaining to watch; it was gripping. I hope it encourages more people out there to take part in nonviolent actions.
Steve Barnes said their case would help erode SOCPA: “It's a cumulative effect. Today was a victory for common sense.”
- Meanwhile, in Scotland on 4 September, SOCPA was used to arrest six Faslane 365 protesters (three of them had entered the nuclear submarine base on bicycles) as SOCPA also “protects” certain “national security sites”.