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TWO WIN TRESPASS APPEAL

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Opponents of the Criminal Justice Act and its subsequent increase in police powers claimed a legal victory last nig...
Opponents of the Criminal Justice Act and its subsequent increase in police powers claimed a legal victory last night after a crown court quashed the convictions of two people tried for 'trespassory assembly', reported the Times (Jan 6, p7).

Margaret Jones and Richard Lloyd were the first defendants to be convicted of the offence when they appeared before Salisbury magistrates in October last year. They were among a group who went to Stonehenge on June 1 last year while a four-mile exclusion zone was in operation. They were arrested on a footpath outside the perimeter fence and charged under the new Act.

Appealing against conviction at Salisbury crown court, their counsel, Keir Starmer, argued his clients had no case to answer as they were not trespassing.

Michael Butt, for the Crown, claimed this submission was a 'thinly disguised attack' on the Criminal Justice Act and warned that if it was successful a whole section of the Act banning assemblies within prohibited areas would be nullified.

But Mr Starmer argued the convictions could stand only if it were proved the appellants and others had exceeded their rights to be on the highway.

Judge MacLaren Webster, sitting with two magistrates, said they had to be sure that public rights of access had been exceeded to create a trespassory assembly. 'We do not find there is that evidence and accordingly the appeal must be allowed', he ruled.

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