PEACE ACTIVIST PRISONER
At 4.30pm on Wednesday 15th June 2005, during a small and peaceful anti-arms trade demonstration, Paul Leoniowski was arrested by Sussex Police. This arrest took place outside Arms Manufacturers EDO MBM, Home Farm Road, Moulsecoomb, Brighton.
EDO MBM, a unit of the US owned EDO Corporation, makes bomb release and interface technology for the Raytheon Paveway series of ‘Smart Bombs’, and the Storm Shadow SCALP E, ‘fire and forget’ cruise missile, which were extensively used in the US/UK directed illegal war on Iraq. Paul was arrested for an alleged breach of an interim High Court Civil Injunction brought by the company against anybody protesting outside its factory in Home Farm Road. The injunction has been in force since 26th May and this was the first time anybody had been arrested for breaching it.
The next day a District Judge at Brighton Magistrates Court refused to grant Paul bail describing what he had done as in ‘flagrant disregard of the injunction’ and remanded him to Lewes prison until a pre-trial hearing.
Paul was acting as a legal observer on the day, wearing a marked bright yellow jacket, and used a video camera to witness the behaviour of two men, one with a video camera, who refused to identify themselves, whilst threatening another female protestor. One of these men then called Sussex Police and reported Paul for a breach of the injunction, which prohibits photography of ‘protected persons’ under the interim Injunction. It was only revealed in court the next day that this man was the director of Guardian Security Ltd, a sub contactor of EDO MBM (and therefore a protected person). He had refused to identify himself on the day itself.
Paul was described in court as of ‘good character’ with no previous convictions and the Crown Prosecutor had not contested an application for bail, but the District judge decided to make an example of him and remanded him to Lewes Prison for one week.
Interim civil injunctions brought under Section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 against political protestors, have till now only been used against Animal Rights activists (and in one case against GM crop protestors) Out of 19 High Court civil injunction cases over the last three years, none have yet come to full trial, and despite a handful of arrests, no-one has ever been convicted or remanded for breach of the interim injunctions, that are usually imposed between the period of initial claim and full trial.
Paul is the first individual to be remanded for a breach of an interim injunction brought under this law against political activists in the UK.
The evidence used to bring interim injunctions of this kind has only been examined by High Court Judges on a prima facia level. The required standard of proof for an interim injunction to be granted is only that the case is ‘arguable’, but breaching it carries the full penalty of a permanent injunction (maximum 5 years imprisonment). The evidential burden of proof in civil courts is lower than in criminal proceedings and allows for hearsay, and in the EDO case has even included anonymous postings on open source websites, that could easily have been written by the employees of EDO MBM. Allegations of harassment are strenuously denied by all named defendants in the EDO injunction hearings. Paul is not even named on the injunction as a defendant and has not even been considered as part of any organised campaign against the company by those bringing the action.
The 1997 Act was intended to protect individuals and close knit family and social groups from harassment by ‘stalkers’, and since it has been established in court that corporations cannot be harassed, corporate law firms specialising in this field have found a way round the law by using Civil Procedure Rule 19.6 which grants a Representative Order to directors of companies on behalf of all their employees, subcontractors, and agents as a supposed ‘close knit group’.
No evidence has been shown in court that EDO MBM Director David Jones has been mandated by his employees to represent them. EDO MBM employees, as signatories of the Official Secrets Act, cannot even speak out to dispute his claim of representation without risking arrest and criminal prosecution.
Because of the seriousness of his alleged offence (breach of a High Court Injunction) and a possible maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, Paul’s case will be heard in Lewes Crown Court. A pre-trial hearing is set for 10am Wednesday June 22nd 2005. An alleged minor technical civil offence under this interim injunction (pointing a camera) has become a serious criminal matter for the Crown Court and is to be heard before a jury trial. Meanwhile the real criminals who aid and abet war crimes and mass murder go to work without fear of arrest for crimes they are clearly involved in.
We ask you to show support for Paul’s defence case, and speak out against the clear injustice of this interim injunction brought by an arms company against peaceful anti-war demonstrators.
Pauls imprisonment is a clear attempt to intimidate and suppress anti-war and anti-arms trade demonstrations in Brighton. The interim injunction was suggested to EDO by Sussex Police as a means to ending the protests, and protecting their budget, even though they have a legal responsibility to allow peaceful demonstrations to take place as a foundational freedom of democratic society.
Any discouragement of open political demonstrations by the state or any party is a serious contravention of both articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights to Freedom of Expression and Assembly. But since none of these political injunction cases have had their claims of harassment tested in full trial, they have been used by police as a means of intimidation, arrest and now imprisonment. EDO MBM have paid out tens of thousands of pounds to give the police the powers to bypass the normal process of law, to harass protestors, and now lock them up.
EDO MBM are ancillary offenders in war crimes. They clearly aid, abet and assist the illegal war of aggression by US/UK forces in Iraq, as well as supplying, the Israeli armed forces who commit crimes against humanity and genocide in the occupied Palestinian territories. These are arrestable offences in UK domestic law under the International Criminal Court Act 2001.
On Saturday June 11th 2005 over 100 individuals reported these crimes to Superintendant Kevin Moore at Brighton Police Station. He has so far refused to take action, and has told the Brighton Argus that he has dismissed the evidence. David Jones, Director Of EDO MBM remains at large. Paul remains in Lewes prison.