Tom Wainwright of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team represented Milo Ponsford, the first of four defendants charged with criminal damage for toppling the statue of Edward Colston, the notorious 17th century slave trader.
All four defendants were today found Not Guilty by a Bristol jury.
Pulling down the statue was an act of protest and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement which reverberated around the world. It has led to a number of local authorities, companies and other organisations throughout the country confronting their links with the slave trade and removing racist and offensive memorials.
In his closing speech to the jury, Tom Wainwright submitted that the events of 7th June 2020 ‘did not destroy history, they created history’. In response to the prosecution assertion that the defendants actions subverted democracy, Tom argued:
‘Democracy doesn’t start and end at the ballot box. The right to protest is part of our history, our democracy, our constitution and the rule of law…
Protest is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it.’
Tom Wainwright was instructed by Kevin Williams of GT Stewart Solicitors.