17h June 2005
EMBARGO. For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Andrew Beckett 07875 708873
PEACE ACTIVIST REMANDED FOR BREACH OF ARMS DEALERS INJUNCTION
Today Brighton Magistrates remanded peace activist Paul Lesniowski for allegedly breaching the controversial injunction imposed by Brighton arms dealers EDO MBM. This-is the first-time that a political activist has been remanded under section 3 of the a-Protection from Harassment Act
Paul was arrested yesterday at 4:30pm,for filming the director of Guardian security (employed by EDO MBM) to enforce the injunction. The director, accompanied by his own cameraman had crossed the road confront protestors. Both men refused to identify themselves when asked
Despite the District Judge hearing that Paul was of good character with no previous convictions she decided to remand-him. A packed public gallery was visibly shocked by the decision. Sussex Police maintained a heavy presence in court throughout.
. He is not named on the injunction, and at the regular demonstration on Wednesday when he was arrested he was not even protesting, but acting as a legal observer in a marked yellow jacket.
Despite the District judge declaring that she did have jurisdiction to deal with the alleged breach, Paul asked for his case to be heard in the Crown Court before a jury.
Andrew Beckett, press spokesman for the campaign said “It is disgusting that a committed peace activist finds himself in prison for an alleged minor breach of this draconian injunction. Sussex Police have taken it upon themselves to enforce an exclusion zone by whatever means necessary”
Supporters will demonstrate outside Lewes prison today at 4:30pm
Paul is due to appear in court again on June 23rd.Paul is a 31 year old Brighton resident. He works as a translator for a major paper company.
Notes for Journalists
Brighton&Hove is a UN Peace Messenger City.
The Injunction referred to was served under the1997 Protection from Harassment Act (originally designed to protect people from stalkers) and is the first of its kind directed at activists outside of the animal rights movement. Crucially it is a civil injunction but carries criminal penalties. It affects anyone deemed to be a protestor
In the handful of prosecutions that have been made against animal rights activists under the same ‘stalker’ law legislation there have been no convictions and nobody has gone to prison.
Initially EDO/MBM requested a large “exclusion zone” comprising the whole of Home Farm Industrial Estate. They and Sussex police also wanted to limit demonstrations to two and a half hours, with less than ten people who had to be silent. Judge Gross refused to impose these conditions at the initial hearing.
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.
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 IV guided bomb system widely used in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq. EDO also recently withdrew a threatened libel action against Indymedia over being named as “warmongers”.
Lawson-Cruttenden & Co, a solicitors firm working for EDO have been instrumental in developing the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 from a measure designed to safeguard individuals to a corporate charter to make inconvenient protest illegal. They have pioneered to use of injunctions to create large “exclusion zones”. They have secured numerous injunctions against anti-vivisection and anti-GM protestors.
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.