IWGB makes call for solidarity and defence of free assembly as Chair of United Private Hire Drivers’ Branch faces charges over use of a megaphone
In a case which could have chilling effects on the right to peaceful protest in the UK, the Chair of one of IWGB’s branches, UPHD, faces a criminal charge of ‘assaulting’ two police officers, allegedly having hurt their ears by using a megaphone at a protest.
IWGB’s Executive Committee (EC) has committed £15,000 to support legal costs for the case, following a unanimous vote of support in 2019.
IWGB is now calling on the public to donate to the crowdfund that has been set up in the last few days to find the remainder of the higher-than-expected legal costs. Please see further details of how to donate at:
Further details of this shocking case can be found below, in a shortened/amended version of a motion of solidarity passed by the IWGB EC over the weekend.
IWGB wishes James all the best at court today and stands with him in the fight for justice!
IWGB stands in solidarity with James Farrar in his criminal trial for actions that took place while he was undertaking legitimate Trade Union activities. The IWGB Executive Committee (EC) backs James 100%.
We understand that this is a very difficult and personally distressing time for James Farrar and his family and wish to do all we can to support him. This union also notes that this is a case of critical importance for campaign groups, activists and unions across the UK.
In a unanimous motion of support from the EC, IWGB has already allocated £15,000 of central union funds to support the case at trial. A barrister has been retained to represent him, supported by a reputable firm of solicitors that were found by IWGB. IWGB officials and staff plan to attend court en masse in support of their union colleague and fellow activist.
The situation has arisen that the legal costs for this case were underestimated due to (i) a misunderstanding re the legal fees, (ii) the advice that a QC should be retained in addition to the current representation, and (iii) the fact that the case will run for longer than thought. James Farrar therefore stands in need of additional money to support the case at trial for the full four days. The total cost is estimated at around £21,000.*
Whilst organising a UPHD-branch protest on 4 March 2019, UPHD-Branch Chair James Farrar used a megaphone to rally supporters and make statements on behalf of the protest, as is common at IWGB protest events.
Around this time, he made a formal complaint about police behaviour during the demonstration.
Several weeks later, he was himself accused of ‘assaulting’ two police officers by using the megaphone (it is alleged that the noise hurt the officers’ ears). James is now facing a criminal charge and may be imprisoned for up to a year if he loses the case.
The IWGB Executive Committee (EC) has previously passed a motion, with unanimous support, which gave James Farrar IWGB’s full support in fighting a case which has the effect of intimidating him and others in IWGB and the wider Trade Union/activist movement from making legitimate, peaceful protests. It is vital that we support his case as strongly as we are able, and that others do likewise.
* Since this motion was passed, it appears the this figure may be inaccurate and may, in fact, be higher. See the crowdfund page for further details.