Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Judge refuses CPS appeal against protester acquittals

Judge refuses CPS appeal against protester acquittals


Application 'significantly' and 'repeatedly' misrepresents court's judgment, says district judge

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) application to appeal the acquittals of eight protesters charged with obstructing the highway outside one of the world's largest arms fairs has been refused.

The anti-arms protesters were acquitted at Stratford Magistrates' Court of wilful obstruction of the highway in April after District Judge Hamilton found they had acted in prevention of crime.

The defendants had argued that their actions in blocking access to the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference in London were necessary to prevent the sale of illegal weapons and torture equipment, which would result in human rights abuses abroad.

Giving judgment the judge stated that the defendants had established 'clear, credible, and largely unchallenged evidence that criminal wrongdoing had happened at previous DSEI fairs' and there was a 'compelling inference that this was taking place at the 2015 exhibition'.

In refusing the appeal, DJ Hamilton stated that the CPS application was misconceived.

'The CPS application repeatedly [and] significantly misrepresents the contents of the judgment delivered at the end of the case and therefore seeks to challenge the decisions reached on wholly erroneous bases,' said the judge.

'The CPS application also muddles factual decisions with decisions of law and it is not open to the CPS to seek to appeal findings of fact. A very lengthy and detailed judgment was produced at the end of this matter, although this is not a requirement for trials in the magistrates court.

'The judgment was designed to be of assistance to all the parties in the case. In these circumstances the very least the CPS should do is to read the judgment fully and, if appropriate, frame their application based on what was actually decided rather than what they seem to believe was decided.

'The CPS also needs to make a significantly better effort to identify any claimed errors of law as distinct from findings of fact.'

Welcoming the outcome, Samantha Broadley of Bindmans, who represented one of the defendants, said: 'We are pleased that the judge is taking a sensible line in his approach to this matter.

'It remains our view that the police and prosecution energies should be directed towards the investigation of manufacturers, sellers, buyers, and users of the weaponry that is traded at the DSEI exhibition. We hope that these investigations can now be taken forward without further delay.'