Sat Nov 17, 2012, 03:21 PM
dipsydoodle (42,082 posts)
Tony Blair and the protesters who keep trying to arrest him for war crimes
"Is that him in the tie? I'll go and applaud him," says a woman sitting yesterday in the waiting area of Haringey magistrates court in north London. People clap as David Lawley-Wakelin, dressed in a black corduroy jacket, appears. Days earlier, at a demonstration, he had been described as "a hero of the anti-war movement". His supporters – around 30 of them – who turned up at 9am on Friday seem to agree. Many repeatedly thank him for what he did on 28 May this year, when he burst into court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice, where Tony Blair was giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry, and accused the former prime minister of being a war criminal.
We file in, filling all 27 seats in the public gallery; a further group outside have erected an anti-war banner and hold placards. Since Lawley-Wakelin is accused of being guilty of an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, of causing harassment, alarm or distress, James Mason, his barrister, makes much of how his client is cordial and charming – the "excuse me" he uttered as he started his protest, the co-operation with the police afterwards – and that this case is like "a sledgehammer to crack a very polite and modest nut".
A television news report featuring CCTV footage of the incident is played several times. Lawley-Wakelin gives the slightest hint of a smile when it gets to the part where he is bundled back out of the door behind Lord Leveson's desk, shouting "that man is a war criminal". The district judge goes off to consider his decision; Lawley-Wakelin and his supporters go off for a pub lunch.
We first meet days before his court appearance at a hotel near King's Cross. Later, we'll go on to join a protest led by the Stop the War campaign group outside University College London, where Blair is thought to be speaking at a conference at the Institute of Security and Resilience Studies, which is affiliated to UCL (he isn't here, it soon turns out; he is at another building in London Bridge). He said he wasn't nervous about appearing before a magistrate. "When you go to court, usually you're being taken to court for something where there's a good chance you're guilty, and you're going along and grovelling. I'm going along knowing I'm in the right."
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