In the House of Commons today Michael Fabricant expressed his alarm at the acquittal of two people who had been prosecuted for demonstrating unlawfully at the Israeli owned UAV engine factory in Shenstone near Lichfield.
Initiating a short debate about this, Michael told the Courts Minister: “Chris Pincher and I had been working very closely to ensure that the police act decisively and swiftly in Shenstone, near Lichfield, over constant demonstrations at an Israeli company which supplies equipment parts to the British Armed Forces.
“Two people were sent to trial at Walsall magistrates court, and they were acquitted. It is reported, although we can’t know for sure because it’s not a court of record, that the judge said: “On the principle of proportionality, the action was proportionate in comparison to the crimes against humanity by the Israelis which they were acting to stop”. If this is true, I think the judge’s statement is outrageous.
“What can be done within the judicial system to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen, if indeed it did?”
Mike Freer, the Courts Minister replied: “My Hon Friend raises an important point in terms of the independence of the judiciary. We do have to be careful that we don’t rely on reports by third parties, perhaps with a vested interest, because these cases are not reported officially.
“However, if my Hon Friend wishes to discuss any points of law that may lead to an appeal, then the prosecuting authority can do so, and I am happy to work with my Hon Friend and guide him on how that may be taken up with the Attorney General.
“In terms of any complaints about the behaviour of the judiciary, there is a clearly defined process which I am very happy to discuss with my Hon Friend after today’s session.”
Commenting after the Commons debate, Michael says: “I share the concern of Staffordshire Police who had arrested two women, one from Littlehampton in West Sussex and the other from Sheffield, who had come to Shenstone and locked themselves onto vehicles preventing workers from entering or leaving the factory.
“This constant nuisance blocks the roads around Shenstone and I suspect the police will be as annoyed as I am that after a two day trial in Walsall, the perpetrators were acquitted. What message does that give others who will wish to demonstrate?
“The irony is that the demonstrators claim they are disrupting military supplies to Israel. In fact, the specialist engines are bought by the British armed forces and the actions of these demonstrators could potentially cost British lives.
“I hope now that Staffordshire Police will use the mechanisms outlined by the Courts Minister to pursue a conviction of these people and others.”