Brighton Magistrates rule that Stalls having a Collection Box do NOT Require a Permit from the local Council.
At a day long hearing at Brighton magistrates court, Tony Greenstein was found not guilty of collecting money contrary to s.5 of the Factories and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1916.
Brighton magistrates decided that because the Council’s implementing regulations stipulate that each collector has to have their own collection box, Mr Greenstein could not be guilty of being a ‘collector’ under the Act. On most stalls there is usually just one collective tin.
The Defence argued strongly that the effect of making stalls apply for a collection permit, when permits are only for one off events or at most a series of events, would be to make it more difficult to run campaigns such as Palestine Solidarity Campaign, No War/Solidarity Groups as well as the many ad-hoc groups who spring up over the building of a new
The Council’s witness, Sara-Jane McNaught, was unable to comment on whether the Council itself had correctly implemented the Act and was forced to resile from crucial parts of her own evidence.
It was abundantly clear that the reason for the Police action, when Brighton PSC has run a stall a stall without police objecting to a collection tin for a decade, was that Brighton PSC had set up their stall alongside EDO-MBM, the group 8 of whose activists were recently acquitted of criminal damage for decomissioning an arms factory.
The Police believed that both stalls were one and the same. PC Dodd, who carried out the confiscation, and the undercover officer in charge, Police Sergeant Baker, had at best a hazy knowledge of the law in question or even the existence of implementing regulations having only
been briefed that same morning. PSC was caught in the middle of an undercover operation the Police had mounted against Smash EDO.
The case of course sets no precedent other than in Brighton & Hove itself. What it does mean is that the Police will now think twice about harassing stalls using their collection box as a pretext.
Brian Richardson of Garden Court Chambers acted for the Defence.