Fortnum sit-in protesters found guilty of trespass


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Protesters whose occupation of Fortnum & Mason shut down the central London department store during an anti-cuts rally in March were convicted yesterday of aggravated trespass.

The 10 defendants were each given a conditional discharge and told to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs. Speaking outside City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, they vowed to appeal and said they would "definitely" take part in future occupations.

The judge, Michael Snow, expressed some sympathy for the protesters, saying civil disobedience had "a long and entirely peaceful history in this country and history often vindicates those involved in such acts". But he said the sit-in at Fortnum's in Piccadilly, which was targeted by the UK Uncut group on the day of a large TUC rally in the capital, had "overstepped" the mark.

Protesters organised the occupation on Twitter because they believed the store was "guilty of tax avoidance", the court heard. The defendants claimed they were "found guilty of taking part in a protest" and pointed to evidence from police that the occupation was "sensible" and "non-violent".

Euan Storrar, 24, of Surrey; Daniel Lichman, 25, and Grainne Gannon, 29, from London; Sebastian Jones and Oliver Pope, both 20, of Southampton; Adam Ramsay, 26, of Perthshire; Edward Bauer, 23, of Hampshire; Oliver Rodker, 42, of Manchester, and Peter Speller, 26, of Oxford, were all conditionally discharged for six months and told to pay £1,000 costs.

Jake Colman, 22, of London, who was already subject to a conditional discharge for a separate offence, was given a six-month conditional discharge, told to pay £1,000 costs and fined £215.

The judge refused to award Fortnum's compensation, despite the shutdown costing it £54,000 in lost sales.