Five found guilty of public order offence following controversial Irish and trade unionist march
Five people were found guilty of a public order offence after a controversial Irish and trade unionist march through Liverpool city centre.
The four men and one woman had all denied the charge when they appeared before District Judge Richard Clancy at Liverpool magistrates’ court.
But after a two-day trial, Mr Clancy found Paul Harrison, 31, of Windbourne Road, Aigburth ; Jason Aspinall, 41, of Cherry Lane, Walton ; Jonathan Halvorsen, 22, of Wentworth Drive, Everton ; and married couple Margaret Anders, 24, and Paul Anders, 26, of Northumberland Street, Toxteth , guilty of the charge.
They were arrested after failing to comply with a notice which required counter-protesters at the James Larkin march last July to assemble in a designated spot away from the route of the parade.
Demonstrators were told at the start of the march that they would be liable for arrest if they protested during the procession, which in previous years had been marred by scenes of public disorder.
All five of the accused were warned by officers on separate occasions during the course of the march, culminating in their arrest as it made its way along Hanover Street and The Strand.
In the case of Harrison, Aspinall, and Halvorsen, they were “chanting and gesticulating” towards the marchers in Hanover Street.
Paul and Margaret Anders, meanwhile, shouted abuse towards the parade as it made its way along The Strand.
The James Larkin march has attracted controversy from some factions who claim it is a front for Irish republicanism.
Mr Clancy said in his summing-up: “Clearly there are some feelings in this matter. You weren’t happy with the situation and you wanted to protest.
“People have the right to protest, but it has to be peaceful. We are dealing with a potential disorder situation.”
After a means assessment was carried out, Harrison and Halvorsen were each fined £100 for the offence, while Aspinall, Margaret and Paul Anders were each fined £75.
They were also ordered to pay prosecution costs.
Chief Superintendent Jon Ward, Area Commander for Liverpool North, said: “Merseyside Police is committed to ensuring that people have the right to conduct legitimate marches in the city without fear of interference, or prejudice.
“In the past marches by some groups have attracted interest from opposition groups intent on causing problems and disrupting peaceful marches through the city through the use of intimidation.
“When the Larkin March took place earlier this year we were determined to ensure that the event would take place without incident and invested significant resources in to policing the march. The force used the Section 14 powers for the first time to prevent any problems and as a result a number of people who refused to adhere to the conditions were arrested and charged.
“The sentencing at court today supports the actions taken by Merseyside Police on the day of the march and hopefully sends out a strong message for similar marches in the future.”