Thursday, 22 January 2009

Freedom to Protest in Portsmouth

John Molyneux was arrested on the 3rd of January and charged under Section 11 of the Public Order Act (1986) after helping to organise a protest in Portsmouth against the massacres in Gaza. His 'crime'? Exercising his freedom to publicly express political dissent in association with others.

Article from Portsmouth Today: http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/Protest-organiser-is-to-challenge.4862367.jp

'Protest organiser is to challenge the law that led to his arrest'
Portsmouth Today
10 January 2009
By Alex Forsyth

'A protester plans to challenge the law that led to his arrest after a
peaceful demonstration against Israel's attacks on Gaza.

John Molyneux appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court yesterday,
when he pleaded not guilty to failing to give police enough notice of
the march that followed last Saturday's rally.

The 60-year-old university lecturer, pictured, who was charged under
the Public Order Act, admits he was an organiser of the demonstration
in Portsmouth's Guildhall Square.

But he plans to argue in court that he should not have been arrested
for failing to give six days' notice of the event.

Mr Molyneux said: 'The main events that occurred were witnessed by the
hundreds of people that were there. The facts cannot be disputed and I
will not argue against that. But this is about our democratic right to
hold protests and I will be presenting legal arguments in defence of
those rights.'

As reported in The News, around 400 people turned up in Guildhall
Square on January 3 as part of a weekend of demonstrations organised
across Europe.

Mr Molyneux was arrested minutes before the rally was due to end.
Police said they needed sufficient notice of an event in order to
police it effectively and insisted they acted reasonably.

But campaigners accused them of being too heavy handed.

Jon Woods, a member of the Portsmouth Stop the War Coalition, said he
supported Mr Molyneux in his fight against the law.

'It was a peaceful demonstration and there was no need for the arrest,' he said.

'This is about our basic right to protest and I think John is right to
argue for that.

'Protest does make a difference and sometimes we do have to be able to
respond to situations at short notice.

'For example, in the case of asylum seekers, if we waited six days to
give notice by the time we protested they would have been shipped off
back to their country to face torture.'

Mr Molyneux, of Mayles Road, Milton, will remain on unconditional bail
until he appears in court on April 17 to stand trial.'

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