Oxford University soliticor in trouble with the law

Article taken from the Arkangel website

Anti arms trade campaigners have handed in 7 official complaints to the law society regarding the conduct of Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, the solicitor who represented EDO MBM in their failed attempt to gain an injunction against protesters at their Brighton factory.

EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole UK subsidiary of huge U.S. arms conglomerate EDO Corp, which was recently named No. 10 in the Forbes list of 100 fastest growing companies. They supply bomb release mechanisms to the US and UK armed forces amongst others. They supply crucial components for Raytheon’s Paveway guided bomb system, widely used in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in Iraq.

In March 2005 Mr Lawson-Cruttenden, on behalf of the Brighton arms manufacturers, began proceedings aimed at preventing anybody protesting within a kilometre of the factory (save for at at a designated time in a designated ‘protest area’). The action sparked a year long high-court battle against campaigners ending in EDO MBM dropping the case at a cost of at least a million pounds.

Throughout the case Mr Lawson-Cruttenden had unprecedented access to confidential material held on campaigners by Sussex Police. The complaints to the law society cover the manner in which he obtained this disclosure. Separate complaints are underway against Sussex Police for the biased political policing surrounding protest at the factory (see previous press release).

Mr Lawson-Cruttenden is also currently representing Oxford University in their case against SPEAK Campaigns. SPEAK have alleged similar conduct between Mr Lawson-Cruttenden and Thames Valley Police. In an article posted on their website in January 2005, SPEAK state, “Despite the police’s protestations that they are a neutral body, we have witnessed representatives of Thames Valley Police working closely with the legal team of Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden at the High Court, as Oxford University attempted to muzzle a legal campaign.

We have had the ludicrous situation of policemen passing notes and being involved in conspiratorial huddles with both Oxford University representatives and their legal team.”

The complaints also cover the appropriation by Mr Lawson-Cruttenden of a personal diary belonging to a defendant in the high court proceedings. Chris Osmond, owner of the diary said ‘shortly before the high court case collapsed it was revealed that EDO’s lawyer was in possession of my diary, and may have intended to use it to his benefit in court, it is deeply worrying to think that an officer of the court would go to these lengths to stifle peaceful protest’.

Sarah Johnson, press spokeswoman for Smash EDO, said “throughout EDO MBM’s attempt to stifle freedom of expression in Brighton Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden abused his position as a solicitor and an officer of the court by entering into intrusive investigations into campaigners’ personal data. He was assisted in this by Sussex Police who had an unhealthy relationship with EDO MBM and an interest in ending the protests”.

If the complaints are upheld Mr Lawson-Cruttenden could be struck off the list, losing his right to practice as a solicitor.

Mr Lawson-Cruttenden is the main architect of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The law was originally brought in to protect people, mainly woman from stalkers. Mr Lawson-Cruttenden however, has pioneered the use of the act by corporations to restrict protest on the basis that corporations are being stalked by campaigners. Mr Lawson-Cruttenden has represented over 20 corporations, including Huntingdon Life Sciences and Oxford University against animal rights activists.

Andrew Beckett, spokesman for Smash EDO, said “the use of the act by corporations to restrict protest is contrary to articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act, its use in this way forms part of the current attack on freedom to protest in the UK”.

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