Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 16:21 UK

Olympic protest case thrown out

Martin Wyness
Martin Wyness denied causing harassment, alarm or distress

A protester who tried to extinguish the Olympic torch on its procession through London has walked free from court.

Martin Wyness, 50, from Hereford, set off a fire extinguisher as the torch was carried through west London.

A protester against China's human rights record, Mr Wyness had denied causing harassment, alarm or distress.

West London magistrates ruled there was not enough evidence to proceed after viewing footage of the incident. Mr Wyness was awarded 300 in court costs.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the torch's 31-mile route on 6 April, as clashes took place between human rights activists and police.

More than 2,000 police officers tried to protect the 80 torch bearers during the 10-hour relay.

'Propaganda extinguisher'

Mr Wyness set off an extinguisher with the words "propaganda extinguisher" written on the side of it as the torch was being carried through Holland Park.

A "white haze" filled the air after the extinguisher, which was directly aimed at the torch, was triggered, magistrates heard.

Mr Wyness, who was wearing a yellow high-visibility jacket, was immediately detained by police.

Footage of the incident, which was broadcast live on television at the time, was played in court.

It was just a protest symbolic of what the British people are feeling about what is happening in Tibet
Martin Wyness

After being arrested, Mr Wyness told cameramen: "I tried to extinguish the flame. China has no right to be doing what it's doing."

District Judge Andrew Sweet said: "Having viewed the video footage and listened carefully to your argument, I am not satisfied that the elements (of the statute) are made out."

Outside court Mr Wyness said the verdict was "a wonderful demonstration of the common sense of the British judiciary".

He said: "The British Government did not have the same common sense when they let the Chinese regime hold their propaganda festival in our country."

Mr Wyness added: "I clearly did not cause alarm or distress on that day, it was just a protest symbolic of what the British people are feeling about what is happening in Tibet."

A month before the incident, Mr Wyness was among protesters who hung pro-Tibet slogans around the necks of China's Terracotta Warriors at the British Museum in central London.

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Footage of Mr Wyness setting off the extinguisher




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'No regrets' for torch protester
08 Apr 08 |  Hereford/Worcs

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