At Southwark Crown Court this week, a protestor represented by Bindmans LLP has been found not guilty by a unanimous jury in a trial following from the widely publicised Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place in London in June 2020.
As a long-time advocate for racial justice, the defendant had attended the protest following the murder of George Floyd in the USA in order to highlight structural racism within the police force and other public bodies, and call for greater police accountability. He became caught up in disorder after he attempted to challenge officers who appeared to be making a seemingly unwarranted arrest of a young person attending the protest.
The client faced three counts of violent disorder at trial. He relied upon self-defence and defence of another as a response to what appeared to be excessive force used by police against protesters. He was found not guilty by a unanimous jury on two counts, after a submission of no case to answer was upheld in relation to the other count.
Hester Cavaciuti, Solicitor at Bindmans LLP, comments:
The government is in the process of curtailing important protest rights which are a cornerstone of our democracy. This case shows that despite the government’s attempts to curtail freedom of speech and criminalise protests, the public, through their role as members of a jury, are still prepared to protect the right to protest, and will act proportionately when dealing with protestors who act with integrity to protect the rights of others.
The defendant was represented by Hester Cavaciuti of Bindmans LLP, and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers. Hester Cavaciuti was assisted by Lodovica Degan, trainee solicitor.