The four activists charged with participating in an unlicensed street collection at an anti-deportation event on 7th May 2007 won the right today, Monday 10th March, to have their case heard before a district judge.
The trial has been scheduled for 19th May 2008. This will enable them to call for the release of the full text of the correspondence between the Council and Northumbria Police regarding the prosecution, large parts of which were blanked out in a Freedom of Information request made by defendant Tom Vickers. The legal team acting on behalf of Newcastle City Council opposed the move, but a magistrate at Gosforth Magistrates Court ruled in favour of the defendants' right to take the case to a District Judge, who has more expertise in ruling on complex legal matters.
Tom Vickers, spokesperson for the defendants, said:
"We are very pleased with today's decision. It is in the public interest for the court to see the full details of the correspondence between the Council and police, which will hopefully shed light on who is really behind these attacks on democratic rights in Newcastle. The lack of consultation with elected council representatives, which has been indicated by the surprise many councillors have expressed that the case is even taking place, is shocking. The police and unelected council officials have no right to be playing such a political role."