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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 13:54 GMT
Activist convicted under demo law
Maya Evans was convicted for breaching the Parliament protest ban
Maya Evans wanted to ring a bell for every British soldier killed in Iraq
A peace campaigner has been convicted under a new law banning unauthorised protests from taking place within half a mile of Westminster.

Maya Anne Evans, 25, a vegan cook from Hastings, was found guilty of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

She was arrested in October after reading out names of soldiers killed in Iraq at central London's Cenotaph.

Bow Street magistrates gave her a conditional discharge.

Demonstrators must seek police consent for any protest around Westminster under the new law introduced in August.

I just think it's a shame that you can't voice your freedom of speech in this country any more
Maya Anne Evans

Speaking after the three-hour trial, Miss Evans said: "I think I got the minimum sentence but I still feel aggrieved that I have been found guilty.

"I do not agree with the Act. I just think it's a shame that you can't voice your freedom of speech in this country any more and it is illegal to hold a remembrance ceremony for the dead."

She said she would try to appeal and was willing to go to jail in defiance of the exclusion zone.

Miss Evans, who has no previous convictions, had wanted to hold a peaceful remembrance ceremony, ringing a bell each time a name was read out, the court heard.

She read out names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq while fellow campaigner Milan Rai, 40, a writer, read out names of dead Iraqi civilians.

Both were arrested and Miss Evans was held for five hours at Charing Cross police station before being charged.

The new law was initially intended to remove Brian Haw, an anti-war protester who has camped in Parliament Square for four years.

But Mr Haw successfully fought off the latest attempt to evict him in the High Court, by arguing his protest pre-dated the legislation.




SEE ALSO:
Westminster protests to be banned
03 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Protest ban zone 'goes too far'
15 Jun 05 |  London


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