A leading academic was yesterday cleared of causing public disorder and criminal damage during a protest by anti-capitalists.
Lisa McKenzie was found not guilty of criminal damage, while two other public order charges were thrown out by Stratford Magistrates Court in London.
The charges related to her part in a Class War ‘Poor Doors’ protest earlier this year, in which stickers and posters were placed on the entrance at 1 Commercial Street, London. The ongoing Poor Doors demonstrations are against one door for private residents and another door for social housing tenants. The apartment building is owned by Texan property tycoon and friend to Prince Harry, Taylor McWilliams.
Dr Lisa McKenzie, 47, is an academic at the London School of Economics, and was Class Wars parliamentary candidate for Chingford, where she stood against Iain Duncan Smith.
She was represented in court by Ian Brownhill, a barrister with No5 Chambers who in May successfully defended another Class War protestor, Jane Nicholl.
Mr Brownhill said: “I am delighted that No5 has again been able to secure freedom of speech in this country.
“Lisa is perhaps the most recognisable Class War protestor and police admitted in court that she had been targeted and profiled – the Deputy District Judge in his final ruling expressed his discomfort at this. On the day of the trial the Crown Prosecution Service amended charges using the controversial joint enterprise legal doctrine – where one person can be held responsible for another’s criminal act.
“We had hoped this case would never go to trial but because it did, it now stands out as important because it reinforces what we all firmly believe in this country, and that is that everyone is entitled to campaign for what they believe in without fear of prosecution.”
Shortly after coming out of court, a delighted Lisa tweeted to her 5,400 followers ‘Not Guilty, Not Guilty’.
She said: “This is a victory for Class War. I believe that the level of police harassment that I have been subject to is politically motivated and purposeful to frighten those of us who do not agree with austerity and injustice
“The charge against me was changed to joint enterprise, unprecedented in a protest case, and had I been convicted would have been an attack on our basic human rights.”
Called to the Bar in 2009, Ian Brownhill is a staunch human rights defender. Best known for defending Occupy UK protestors in London, he recently took up the brief to act for the family of missing toddler Ben Needham and continues to act for controversial life sentenced prisoner Kevan Thakrar.
PICTURED: Outside court, a victorious Lisa McKenzie with her No5 Chambers barrister Ian Brownhill