DPP appeal against acquittal of DSEI protestors partially successful


Re: DPP v Ziegler & Ors [2019] EWHC 71 (Admin)

This matter concerned appeals against the dismissal of charges of obstructing a highway during protests against the Defence and Security International fair on the basis that the District Judge was not entitled to find there to have been a ‘lawful excuse’ for the obstruction following a consideration of reasonableness.

The Court dismissed the appeal in the cases of the fifth to the eighth respondents, as it lacked jurisdiction to hear it due to it having been brought out of time.

However, it upheld the appeal for the first to the fourth respondents. This was because the Court held that, though there was no disorder, no obstruction of and no assault on police officers, this did not prevent the offence of obstruction of the highway being committed. The Court considered it highly relevant in any assessment of proportionality that the respondent’ actions did not only obstruct vehicles headed to the DSEI arms fair, but rather also impeded the ability of other members of the public to go about their lawful business as they in fact obstructed the entire highway, and this was for a not insignificant amount of time. The Court concluded that the District Judge’s overall assessment of proportionality was at the end of the day ‘wrong’.

As such, for the first to the fourth respondents convictions were entered and the cases were remitted for sentencing.

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh was involved in this case.