Case against man who organised Norwich demonstration against prime minister David Cameron is dropped as ‘not in public interest’

A placard hits the prime minister's car as demonstrators against government cuts greet David Cameron at The Forum in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith A placard hits the prime minister's car as demonstrators against government cuts greet David Cameron at The Forum in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, March 6, 2014
5:17 PM

The case against a man who organised a protest in Norwich against the visit of David Cameron has been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service, (CPS) it has emerged.

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The demonstration on January 17 was attended by more than 100 activists called together by Norfolk People’s Assembly at around 24 hours notice.

Their aim was to protest as the prime minister arrived for a television interview following a day-long visit to the city, and the county of Norfolk.

As his armoured Government car swept into the Forum car park, activists from the People’s Assembly and other anti austerity groups called out “Stop the Cuts” and “You are ruining this country”.

David Peel, Norfolk People’s Assembly publicity officer was the only activist arrested.

He was taken to Aylsham Police Investigation Centre (PIC), where he was initially charged with attempted criminal damage to the car after a cardboard placard was thrown. This was subsequently changed to a Section 5 public order offence.

Following an initial hearing on February 14, where the prosecution solicitor asked for time to review the evidence, a new court date was set for tomorrow (March 7), but the CPS has announced it was dropping the case.

A statement issued by Frank Ferguson, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS East of England said: “We notified Andrew Peel’s legal representatives and Norwich Magistrates’ Court before the hearing on March 7 2014 that we would be discontinuing the case against him as it was not in the public interest to proceed.

“Mr Peel was charged by Norfolk Police with using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, following a visit to Norwich by the Prime Minister on 17 January 2014.

“A file was passed to the CPS and I have reviewed the evidence. It is clear that a cardboard placard carried by Mr Peel was thrown at the prime minister’s car and that it struck the vehicle, but caused no damage. There is sufficient evidence of disorderly behaviour by him.

“However, looking at whether it is in the public interest to continue with a prosecution and looking at the protest as a whole, it was entirely peaceful apart from this incident. I have taken into account the CPS legal guidance on public protests which says that a prosecution is more likely to be required, if for example, there is significant disruption to people or businesses, or damage to property; the suspect took steps to conceal their identity; violent acts were committed that caused injury – none of which occurred here.

“The guidance also says that a prosecution is less likely where the protest is essentially peaceful, the act committed was minor and in the heat of the moment. Taking this into account, I am satisfied in all the circumstances and in line with the legal guidance that it is not in the public interest to prosecute Mr Peel.”

Have you got a crime story? Call crime reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436

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