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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Crown fails in Sheridan appeal
Faslane protest February 2001
379 people were arrested at the Faslane protest
An appeal against a decision to clear the Scottish Socialist Party leader of charges relating to an anti-nuclear protest has been rejected by High Court judges.

Tommy Sheridan, 38, had been charged with causing a breach of the peace during a demonstration at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde in February 2001.

He was found not guilty of the offence at the base, home of Britain's Trident nuclear submarines, when he appeared at Argyll and Bute District Court, Helensburgh, in October last year.

However, the Crown appealed against the decision by a justice of the peace (JP) to clear the Glasgow list MSP.

Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan: "Peaceful protest"

JP Alastair Stirling had said he felt mass arrests at peaceful demonstrations should no longer be made.

He had accepted Mr Sheridan's argument that his behaviour fell short of what constituted breach of the peace as defined in a landmark appeal case last year.

In that case a court ruled that breach of the peace had to be "more than irritating" and "must be genuinely alarming or disturbing in its context".

The ruling has since prompted the Lord Justice General, Lord Cullen, to convene a panel of five judges to review the law.

On Wednesday, an appeal by the Crown against Mr Sheridan's acquittal was rejected by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

Peaceful protests

Lord Cameron, who chaired the appeal bench, said he was rejecting the Crown's appeal because the magistrate in Helensburgh had interpreted the law correctly.

Advocate-depute Gerald Hanretty QC, prosecuting, had asked for the hearing to be adjourned so that Mr Sheridan's case could be considered by the five-judge panel, but this request was rejected by the courts.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Sheridan said: "This decision was very appropriate. Justice was done.

"It is far too often the case that people who are involved in peaceful protests against the inhumanity of nuclear weapons are criminalised.


It is far too often the case that people who are involved in peaceful protests against the inhumanity of nuclear weapons are criminalised

Tommy Sheridan
"They should not be criminalised. They should be congratulated for making a stance for humanity."

Mr Sheridan has been a regular campaigner against nuclear weapons and has been arrested on numerous occasions after protesting at the Faslane base.

In June this year he was cleared for a second time after a justice of the peace ruled there was no case to answer in relation to a protest in October 2001.

JP John MacPhail said there was not a "sufficiency of evidence" and cleared the MSP of breach of the peace.

Mr Sheridan was also jailed for two weeks in December 2000 after failing to pay a fine imposed by the court after he was arrested at the Faslane base in February of that year.

See also:

25 Jun 02 | Scotland
22 Oct 01 | Scotland
08 Oct 01 | Scotland
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
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