Date: Thursday, 19th May, 2005
Embargo: Immediate Release
Location: Grey's Inn Square, London
Today, anti-war and civil rights activists, including a samba band, will descend on the peaceful central London site of Grey's Inn Square to highlight issues surrounding the war and erosion of human rights in the UK. The focus of their peaceful and lawful protest is lawyer Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden who has controversially made his name through using the "Stalker's Act" to protect companies from protesters. One of his clients, the weapon's manufacturer EDO MBM, who are based in Brighton, have recently been in the High Court using the act to take out an injunction against campaigners who are seeking to end the companies dealings in the arms trade.
The activists are protesting in order to show solidarity with the campaigners against EDO and also to highlight what they perceive as a threat to the fundamental rights to protest through the use of the injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act.
One of the protestors, Brian Carson, said, "Lawson-Cruttenden has been peddling his injunctions who are facing protests over their activities, and by trying to equate protest with harassment has been steadily undermining our fundmantal human rights. This protest is a way of standing up and saying enough is enough."
EDO MBM of Brighton manufacture bomb release mechanisms which are used in Pathfinder missiles attached to F16 fighter planes. Campaigners maintain that the use of these in action in Iraq makes the company complicit in the illegal war there and auxillaries to the war crimes in Iraq where civilians have been targeted. By protesting against the company they hope to raise this issue in the public mind and put pressure on the company to take their war-profiting business out of Brighton. EDO are parts of the larger US based multinational EDO Corporation who is a major arms company in its own right. Other products of EDO MBM have also been implicated as being sold to the Israeli military where they have been used in the oppression of the Palestinians.
Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden is one of the lawyers who pioneered the Protection From Harassment Act (1997), better known as the Stalkers Law, and who realised it's potential in being used to stop protest. Starting with Huntingdon Life Sciences, he has been instrumental in many of the subsequent injunctions including acting for Bayer against anti-genetically modified food campaigners and Oxford University in its bid to stop the campaign against it's new animal laboratory. Campaigners are concerned because the use of the injunctions uses the much weaker civil standard of evidence yet carries a maximum five year penalty for a breach of the injunction. This dangerously blurs the distinction between the civil and criminal laws and is being used to scare people away from protest. The injunctions also permit the courts to impose restictions on the right to protest far beyound permitted by law. This despite the fact that in enacting the law Parliament did not intend it to be used against protests.
Brian Carson continued, "It is our right to expose EDO for what they are up to, and our right to protest to change the world for the better. These injunctions are a dangerous development allowing the financial might of companies to squash the protests of those who disagree with them through drawing out court cases and financial burdens. It is our right to protest against the warmongers of the world such as EDO in an effective manner. These injunctions would take away our ability to be effective and thus make our protests worthless. What is the point of protesting if that is the case? We have a public mandate to expose the truth of EDO's business and inform the world of their practices - EDO would stop that, but it only makes us resist all the harder.
Notes for editors
1. For more information on the day's protest contact Brian Carson at email@example.com. This protest is an independent solidarity action in support of the campaign against Edo and to highlight the civil rights issues. It has been put together independently of SmashEDO or any of the other groups active against EDO, the war in Iraq, etc.
2. To find out about the campaign against EDO visit www.smashedo.org.uk or contact their press officer on Tel: 07875 708873, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. EDO MBM can be contacted at EDO MBM, Emblem House, Home Farm Road, Brighton, BN1 9HU
Tel: 01273 810 500; Fax: 01273 810 600; Email: email@example.com
4. Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden can be contacted at Lawson-Cruttenden & Co, 10-11 Gray’s Inn Square, London, WC1R 5JD; Tel: 020 7405 0833, Fax: 020 7405 0866, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Freedom To Protest