Samba clergyman has arms protest case dismissed
-Dec 9, 2003
Deacon Dave Havard has had his case dismissed, following his arrest during protests against the commercial arms trade at the DSEi Arms Fair in September.
He was in London playing with the Sheffield Samba Band when arrested and charged with Obstruction of the Highway. The case was dismissed after the arresting police officers failed to appear in court.
Deacon Dave, 47, father of 3, has been a member of the clergy in the Church of England for 19 years, working on peace and justice issues. He currently attends St. Maryís Church, Bramall Lane in Sheffield.
156 peace activists were arrested at DSEi this year. 3,000 police were brought in to prevent peaceful protest at a cost of over £2 million.
Leaked documents revealed that the Metropolitan Police were aware that at least 300 exhibitors did not have valid licenses to trade arms in this country and so were committing a criminal offence. It is alleged that The Home office advised the police not to pursue prosecutions as this would embarrass the government who organised and helped to fund DSEi.
At DSEi in 1999 an independent journalist revealed that land mines were being advertised and offered for sale, despite
being a banned and illegal weapon in the UK.
Saddam Hussein also received many of his weapons from the US and Britain through arms sales made at DSEi in previous years.
Britain is one of the leading weapons exporters in the world selling weapons and torture equipment to Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Turkey and Israel, countries with appalling human rights records and even to some countries that the US deems too brutal to support.
Following his court appearance Deacon Dave said, ì It is a relief to have charges dropped but it is outrageous that they were brought in the first place. Why should British taxpayers be funding a weaponís fair to sell weapons which the vast majority of citizens believe are immoral and should be banned altogether?"
"Why should our government be supporting brutal regimes and sowing the seeds for future conflicts and terrorism? Why are the Metropolitan police being employed to defend criminals and murderers and harass peaceful protestors?"