FORMER LIB DEM DEPUTY CHAIR ACQUITTED OF ASSAULT CHARGE

  • Judgement is latest in series of failed prosecutions by CPS
  • Park Warden Supervisor admits fences used to prevent protest at Parliament Square

The trial of Donnachadh McCarthy for the alleged assault of a Park Warden at Parliament Square met an abrupt end today when Deputy District Judge Claire Evans accepted that the incident was an accident. Halting proceedings whilst McCarthy was giving evidence, Evans said she did not want to waste any more court time.

DM-Victory

Evans went on to note Donnachadh’s good character and said that his actions had been misinterpreted.

McCarthy, former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats who was arrested while holding a sign reading “ARREST NICK CLEGG FOR SELLING STOLEN PEERAGES” said:

“More important than my acquittal is the urgent need to end the buying of life-seats in our parliament. So I am delighted that the corrupt practice of selling peerages was finally aired in open court today. It is outrageous that by laying out a few hundred thousand pounds, that fossil fuel, banking, private health, fracking and media lobbyists and directors can vote on legislation affecting the 99%.” [1]

In a surprise development Park Warden Supervisor Michael Swain, who made the allegation of assault against McCarthy, admitted under Oath that the purpose of fences was to “…prevent Occupy London and Occupy Democracy from occupying the square.” 

The Greater London Authority have previously suggested that closure of the Square was necessary for repair work and maintenance of the grass [2]. The decision of the Mayor to closure Parliament Square is the subject of Judicial Review proceedings taken by Liberty and is ongoing. 

Occupy London’s legal adviser Matthew Varnham said:

“It is hard to see how the GLA can justify targetting the Occupy movement in this way. In revealing the true motivations of the Mayor, who once referred to the movement as “boils”, Swain has highlighted the GLA’s disregard for the law. Protest can only be interfered with if deemed necessary and proportionate, and where doing so would achieve a legitimate aim.” 

McCarthy said: 

“It is time for Boris Johnson to be held to account for the millions of pounds wasted trying to suppress Occupy Democracy.”

Judgement is latest in series of failed prosecutions by CPS

Today’s judgement follows a number of trials in which charges against Occupy Democracy protesters have been dropped. The first trial involved four defendants arrested for sitting on tarpaulin which resulted in an acquittal. The District Judge determined that the tarpaulin did not constitute sleeping equipment, prohibited by the Parliament Square Gardens by-law. Furthermore it had not been adapted for the purposes of sleeping.[3]

A second case involving eight defendants charged with the same offence was then dropped. 

The third trial concerned a single protester holding a placard without the permission of the Mayor of London, and without having public liability insurance. This case was dropped the day before the trial was scheduled to begin.

This judgement calls into question the actions and motivation of London Mayor Boris Johnson, the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. The GLA revealed that policing costs between mid-October and mid-February were £1,945,279. [4] Occupy Democracy protested for 17 days during this time, making the average cost of policing £112,000 a day. Based on the basic officer salary of £19,386 for working 233 days per year this means, per day, policing the Square could have paid for 1,354 police officers.

ENDS

Notes for editors:

[1] “Revealed: the link between life peerages and party donations” – The Observer, 21 March 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/21/revealed-link-life-peerages-party-donations

[2] https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases/campaigners-given-go-ahead-legally-challenge-mayor-london-over-parliament-square

[3] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/13/section/143/enacted

[4] Cost analysis of policing Parliament Square

Question No: 2015/0830

Jenny Jones

Thank you for your answer to my questions 2015/0055 and 2015/0497. In your response to my original question 2015/0055 you state “Providing accurate costs for a large number of policing operations is a complex activity requiring significant work by accountants. At this time, cost analysis is unavailable.” Will you release the cost analysis once it has been undertaken?

Written response from the Mayor

The total estimated cost to the MPS of policing the Parliament Square Demonstrations from mid-October to mid-February is £1,945,279 of which £1,588,316 are opportunity costs.

The additional cost relates to overtime, £327,567 and equipment, transport and catering costs, £29,395.

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