Handing down the verdict in Stratford Magistrates court, the judge found the group not guilty of obstructing the highway as police had not properly weighed the right to protest against the need to keep a road open.
The lock-on protest to a box marked “God’s love knows no borders” was part of a week-long attempt to shut down the 2017 Dsei arms fair in the ExCeL centre, London, which saw more than 100 arrests. Cases from the campaign have been filtering through the courts for much of the last month.
Put Down The Sword reported that the verdict hinged on rights under articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights covering freedom of expression and assembly. The ruling also made key mention of questions around illegal sales at the 2013 Dsei event, suggesting the possibility of using a previous defence of “prevention of a greater crime” may not be as dead as first thought.
Commenting for Freedom News, Chris Cole said:
In his sentencing this morning the judge wondered if the general public would see our action against the arms fair as a crime. He concluded rather simply that they would not.
The growing gulf between the negative views of the general public on the arms trade and those insisting that selling arms is a normal and legitimate business despite the impact its having around the globe is likely to see growing protests, particularly at the next DSEI arms fair in 2019. Given that that courts are beginning to back the public on this, politicians and arms companies have some serious thinking to do.