Final Victory For Peace Protesters Against Arms Company’s High Court Harassment Claim
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7th May 2006: The attempt by arms manufacturers EDO MBM to restrict protest outside their Brighton, UK factory has ended in expensive failure.
EDO have consistently denied that they supply Israel with weapons systems, but in December 2005 in a related criminal case, ‘the rooftop 3 case’, former managing director David Jones admitted under oath that the company do supply the Israeli Air Force with parts for the VER-2 system – the main bomb rack used on the Israeli F16, which has been used in documented war crimes in the Palestinian Territories. Their dropping of the injunction case can be in no small part attributed to the fact that they had been caught out lying about this in the high court to avoid legal responsibility under the British International Criminal Court act – complicity in war crimes. Many of the protesters who were named in EDO MBM’s injunction have volunteered with ISM in Palestine and their witness of Israeli war crimes in Palestine would have been material to their defence that they had acted reasonably in circumstances of what they knew about events in Palestine.
EDO MBM’s 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 company 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 us”.
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.
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 was 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 shadow over 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
They and Sussex police also wanted to limit than ten people who had to be silent. Judge Gross refused to 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 huge 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 amongst others. 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”.
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.
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Press Contact: Andrew Beckett or Sarah Johnson
+44 (0) 7875 708873