Three GMB union members arrested for blocking bin lorries during a strike in Brighton have been found not guilty.
Gary Palmer, Declan MacIntyre and Carl Turner appeared at Brighton Magistrates’ Court accused of wilfully obstructing the highway during the Wealden bin strike last May. However, the prosecution offered no evidence against the three GMB members and they were found not guilty by district judge Amanda Kelly.
The court was told Mr Palmer, 63, Mr MacIntyre, 57, and Mr Turner, 65, were in front of the gate of the compound which meant they were on private land.
The GMB’s defence lawyer Austin Stoton said:
“We requested disclosure of matters such as the fact this isn’t a public highway. Dozens of officers attended all of which should have had their body cameras reviewed by the prosecution. We have not had any reply on any of items that we sought disclosure on. This case was full of holes. We are glad these gentleman can put this matter behind them.”
The defence asked for £20 travel costs for the three men, which was granted by Judge Kelly.
The verdict was met with applause and cheers from the packed public gallery. Before the trial, a crowd gathered outside the court to show support for the defendants. Several bin lorries also went past in an organised “drive by” and honked their horns.
Speaking outside the court, Declan MacIntyre, said:
“What an absolute waste of time and money for the taxpayers. The prosecution didn’t put up any evidence against us. We knew we were innocent from day one. We were exercising our democratic right to protest. It’s something that is continuously attacked.
I felt the police were being used by the private contractor as their own security. The judge’s decision being that quick does give you faith in the judicial system. Thankfully they’re not under much pressure from the government in terms of unrealistic restriction to people protesting.
We will continue acting in the same way, in a lawful manner. The whole point of our protest is in relation to people’s working rights and it’s something we have to continue to fight for.”
Gary Palmer, GMB Officer and one of the ‘GMB Three’, said:
“This was always a political case about the rights of people during a cost of living crisis to win enough money to look after their families. Our members were taking part in lawful industrial action to win a decent pay rise. This was an attempt by the company and the police to restrict the right to protest.”