Victory for pro-Palestinian campaigners as 'drone factory' injunction is overturned
The High Court has overturned a civil injunction which saw 19 pro-Palestinian campaigners arrested for demonstrating at a Staffordshire factory.
More than 100 protesters representing 25 different groups, descended on UAV Engines in Shenstone on July 6. They claimed the factory had supplied drone parts used in Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip which killed in excess of 2,200 people during a seven-week military assault.
Company bosses have never responded publicly to the allegations.
In 2014, demonstrators held a similar protest where they scaled the roof of the building on Lynn Lane forcing the factory to close for 24 hours.
In anticipation of more disruption on July 6 this year, UAV moved to secure an injunction which stated people could not protest within a 250 metre exclusion zone around the factory on the day.
Campaigners vowed to hold peaceful demonstrations but nevertheless there were heated scenes as a wall of police officers formed across the road and were forced to push them back.
Some protesters also secured themselves to concrete blocks in the middle of the road and had to be cut free by specialist officers.
UAV took an early decision to close the factory on the day in light of the disruption 12 months before. A partial road closure was also imposed on Lynn Lane.
Nineteen demonstrators, between the ages of 23 and 70 from all around the UK, were arrested on July 6 and later charged with breaching the injunction.
But on Tuesday Birmingham High Court completely overturned all parts of the injunction.
Ryvka Barnard, of War on Want, said: "It would have been a travesty for people to be criminalised.
"We welcome the news that the judge has binned this draconian injunction and we will keep up the fight for an immediate two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel."
It still remains unclear what the ruling will mean for the criminal cases at this stage.
In August, while the 19 were still on police bail, the High Court overturned the part of the injunction which imposed the 250 metre exclusion zone.
It prompted immediate calls from campaigners for the cases to be dropped but two weeks later the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed those arrested would in fact be charged.
Protesters have since appeared at Burton Magistrates Court where they pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
The cases are set to be heard at Stafford Crown Court on November 27.
The CPS were unable to state whether the cases would continue.
Ms Barnard added: "We don't know what baring this will have on the cases of the 19 people charged."
UAV declined to comment on the injunction ruling when approached by the Express & Star.
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