Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The state versus Andrew Murray
Bristol City Council is prosecuting Andrew Murray, national chair of the Stop the War Coalition, in connection with posters that were flyposted onto walls in Bristol. The trial will be at Bristol Magistrates Court on 24th June.
There is no suggestion by the prosecution that Andrew Murray personally posted these up, or even that he was in any way involved in a decision to do so. He is being prosecuted as the head of the organisation allegedly benefiting from the Flyposting. I believe there are 14 counts, each of which carries a possible maximum fine of £2000.
This is the third high profile prosecution by the Liberal Democrat controlled Bristol City Council for Flyposting, and a previous prosecution was also against a different anti-war organisation. (Similarly, in Swindon where I live, it was the Lib Dem councillors who made a big fuss in the local papers seeking for anti-war Flyposting to be prosecuted).
This is a very dangerous precedent, if the leading figures of national political organisation can be prosecuted for events over which they have no control. Not only is it a restriction of the ability to effectively protest, and organise democratic dissent, but it obviously leaves individuals vulnerable to provocation, if opponents and enemies of our movement put up posters in order to get us prosecuted.
The legislation is clearly poorly drafted. Hopefully Bristol’s Lib Dems will see sense before the trial and drop the prosecution.