Trial collapses as judge rules defendant has no case to answer in prosecution for 'assault' by sound

Thursday 16 January 2020

Icah Peart QC and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court were instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors to represent Mr Farrar of the IWGB Union.

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Judge Bartle QC sitting at Southwark Crown Court ruled this morning that James Farrar has no case to answer.

In a successful application to dismiss the case, Icah Peart QC of Garden Court argued that Mr Farrar did not apply force and so there was no battery and no offence was committed.

The charges relate to a demonstration against Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London staged by the IWGB union on March 4th, 2019 in Parliament Square. During the lawful protest, Mr Farrar was using a megaphone near the police to address the crowd. Later he was prosecuted for Assault on an Emergency Worker, despite acknowledgement from the prosecution that no physical force had been used or threatened by Mr Farrar. The police charges relate to allegations of assault of two police officers by sound from the megaphone.

The Union is deeply concerned that police allegations came after the Union had lodged official complaints with the Metropolitan Police Road and Transport Command over police behaviour at the demonstration. Mr Farrar complained about police violence against protesters and terrorist profiling of union members. He was released under investigation for 4.5 months and a charging decision was made within 48 hours of him escalating his earlier complaint about police behaviour after police inaction.

Mr Farrar, defendant and Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union, said:

“This was a corrupt and crude attempt by the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London to break our union and further disenfranchise precarious workers. I now call on the Mayor of London to conduct an urgent investigation into this case and to ensure those responsible are held to account. I have now instructed my lawyers to pursue this matter.”

Raj Chada, Solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen representing Mr Farrar, said:

"This was a disgraceful prosecution of a trade union activist for using a loud hailer. In all my years as a criminal lawyer, I have never experienced an argument that soundwaves constitute assault – we’re amazed that it ever got this far. We have maintained from the start that the investigation into Mr Farrar on these spurious allegations began after he made a complaint against the police behaviour that day. We are concerned that there is a risk that this prosecution was a smoke screen to divert attention away from how the Metropolitan Police and TFL are treating Mr Farrar’s union members – we are advising Mr Farrar about action to take against the Metropolitan Police.”

This case has been widely reported on in the media including Guardian, BBC and Telegraph.

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