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DSEI arms fair: Court cleared 13 anti-war activists last week

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 February 2018

Nicolas Cooper, Samuel Donaldson, Louis Dorton and Tom Franklin outside Stratford Magistrates' Court. Picture: Sam Donaldson

Nicolas Cooper, Samuel Donaldson, Louis Dorton and Tom Franklin outside Stratford Magistrates' Court. Picture: Sam Donaldson

Sam Donaldson

Stratford Magistrates’ Court last week cleared 13 anti-war activists who blocked roads leading to a major arms fair at the ExCeL.

Two of the four anti-war activists protest last year's DSEI arms fair. Picture: CAATTwo of the four anti-war activists protest last year's DSEI arms fair. Picture: CAAT

The protesters were among more than 100 arrested ahead of last September’s Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) gun show, whose guestlist includes repressive regimes Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Timothy Hill, 32, Sarah Johnson, 23, and 28-year-old Rosie Sinfield were cleared of wilfully obstructing a highway on Friday after a judge found their actions “reasonable”.

“My clients saw it as much as a moral as a legal victory,” defence lawyer Simon Natas told the Recorder.

“They regarded it as extremely important that the court found what they did was reasonable, lawful and justified.”

From left: Defendants Chris Cole, Jo Frew, Henrietta Cullinan and Nora Zeigler were previously acquitted. Picture: Campaign Against Arms TradeFrom left: Defendants Chris Cole, Jo Frew, Henrietta Cullinan and Nora Zeigler were previously acquitted. Picture: Campaign Against Arms Trade

The three were arrested alongside Huda Ammori, 23, and 30-year-old Pelle Kirkeby on September 8 during a series of protests aimed to preventing weapons and military equipment reaching the exhibition centre.

The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the same charge against Kirkeby, with District Judge Jane McIvor dismissing the case against Ammori earlier in the week.

Four protesters who admitted blocking both carriageways in Royal Albert Way were acquitted on Thursday after successfully defending their actions as a peaceful protest protected under European Convention on Human Rights.

Nicolas Cooper, 36, Tom Franklin, 59, and 29-year-olds Samuel Donaldson and Louis Dorton abseiled off a flyover on September 5 and unfurled two banners against the fair, one calling DSEI “state terrorism”, the court heard.

District Judge Angus Hamilton, presiding, had earlier dismissed a similar case against three women and one man who “locked on” in Eastern Gateway, a peaceful technique to make themselves hard to remove, only to be arrested minutes later.

Christopher Cole, 54, Henrietta Cullinan, 56, Joanna Frew, 38, and 28-year-old Nora Ziegler sought to draw attention “to the evil of the arms trade”, said lawyer Raj Chada, who represented Nora.

Though charges against most of those arrested during the protests have been dropped, nine of the 10 tried on similar charges last month were found guilty.

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