Hard on the heels of the vindictive pursuit
of Green councillor Jason Kitcat for....err...putting some videos on YouTube, comes the collapse of an attempt to prevent campaign groups having collection tins on publicity stalls - something which they have done for years.
For sheer pointless stupidity, the prosecution of Tony Greenstein will surely take some beating.
The stall which was carrying the offending tin was Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a group which runs regular stalls with said tin on display. This is in common with a number of campaign groups. As Tony explains,
"The Defence argued strongly that the effect of making stalls apply for a collection permit, when permits are only for one off events or at most a series of events, would be to make it more difficult to run campaigns such as Palestine Solidarity Campaign, No War/Solidarity Groups as well as the many ad-hoc groups who spring up over the building of a new supermarket etc.
"It was abundantly clear that the reason for the Police action, when Brighton PSC has run a stall a stall without police objecting to a collection tin for a decade, was that Brighton PSC had set up their stall alongside EDO-MBM, the group 8 of whose activists were recently acquitted of criminal damage for decomissioning an arms factory.
"The Police believed that both stalls were one and the same. PC Dodd, who carried out the confiscation, and the undercover officer in charge, Police Sergeant Baker, had at best a hazy knowledge of the law in question or even the existence of implementing regulations having only been briefed that same morning. PSC was caught in the middle of an undercover operation the Police had mounted against Smash EDO.
The case of course sets no precedent other than in Brighton & Hove itself. What it does mean is that the Police will now think twice about harassing stalls using their collection box as a pretext."
So it appears that the Council allowed itself to be caught up in Sussex Police's political vendetta against Smash EDO.
Most laughable of all, having ripped open this legal can of worms, the Council is now worried about having opened the floodgates to unlicensed street collections!
Serious questions need to be asked about this Tory council's attitude to political dissent, and the amount of public money they are spending on trying to close it down.
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