On January 19th 2022, both Dan and Stan were arrested and held in custody for 32 hours for an allegation of committing aggravated trespass at Cwmbran Leisure Centre which at the time had part of the building being used as a Covid vaccination centre.
Whilst in custody, they were further arrested for fraud offences relating to the same incident, the fraud allegations were serious indictable offences which gave Police power to carry out house searches , their houses were accordingly searched and equipment vital to their work seized using these powers.
Dan and Stan were released on bail with very restrictive bail conditions imposed by the Police for several months, the conditions were designed to try to prohibit further work being carried out by Voice of Wales. The Police retained possession of equipment seized in the house searches.
After several months Dan and Stan were informed by post they were being charged with an offence of Aggravated Trespass Section 69 (3) (a) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Unsurprisingly the fraud allegations which gave the power to Police to search houses and seize equipment had been discontinued due to no evidence, but Police retained the equipment for months not restoring it until they were forced to.
If you are looking for more information surrounding the context of this case, we released a statement around the time it happened, which can be found here.
At court today, Thursday 9th of June 2022, the preliminary court proceedings began, Dan and Stan entered not guilty pleas to the charges against them. The Judge explained that they were charged with violating Section 69 (1) of the Public Order Act. “It’s an offence to ignore the directions of a uniformed police officer to leave the land, when a senior officer present reasonably believes that the person is committing or is about to commit aggravated trespass.”
The solicitor representing Dan and Stan explained to the court that their defence was based mostly on the fact they are Journalists, who were reporting on the event, and they followed all directions given to them by the Police.
The Judge was informed by the defence solicitor that his clients would be submitting a video to the court to prove that they had attended the location as Journalists and had complied with Police directions.
The majority of the hearing was taken up with discussion about the necessity of witnesses attending court for the future trial, the Defence solicitor requested that Chief Inspector Martin Smith be called to court to justify his actions on the day, this was agreed by the Judge, all other Police Officers who attended the scene will also be called to court to confirm details given in their statements and to explain their actions.
Dan and Stan requested the court split the case into two hearings – one for the activists and another for the two Journalists. The reasoning behind this is to make clear that Voice of Wales is completely separate from the activists and operates as a media company. The Judge refused this motion to split it into two court cases on the grounds that she doesn’t want to hear the same evidence twice as it “isn’t fair on either party” and two hearings would have cost implications.
There are three other defendants listed in the same case, one failed to turn up at court, another pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 200 hours Community service and ordered to pay £85 court costs, the third entered no plea which the court took as not guilty by default, and thus was bailed to return for a full hearing.
The trial, which is currently expected to take three days, is set to take place between the 10th and 12th August at Newport Magistrate’s Court.
A case management hearing is set for the 20th July .
Throughout all of this, we have failed to waiver or cower down and we’ll never stop exposing the truth and asking the difficult questions others are afraid to ask. Voice of Wales is a completely self-funded independent media company and we need your support to continue bringing the content that makes us the only Welsh media company who tells the truth. Please support us by clicking on any of the following links:
*Correction: previously we made the assumption that one of the defendants entered a not guilty plea. In actuality, he entered no plea which was taken by the court as not guilty by default. The relevant adjustments have been made.*
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