THE EIGHT pro-hunting demonstrators who entered the House of Commons chamber during a debate on a Bill to ban fox hunting reaffirmed their denial of charges of disorderly conduct when they appeared in court for a pre-trial review last Tuesday (January 18th).
As reported previously, the demonstrators were charged under section 5 of the Public Order Act after the incident on September 15th when they burst into the debating chamber in the House of Commons when the Government’s Hunting Bill was being discussed and huge demonstrations were taking place outside Parliament.
The men, including 22-year-old Otis Ferry, the son of rock star Bryan Ferry, and Luke Tomlinson, 27, a close friend of Princes William and Harry, appeared before Bow Street magistrates court.
At an earlier hearing in December, all eight pleaded not guilty to using threatening behaviour or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. The men were granted unconditional bail.
It was later alleged that some of the men were former members of the Special Forces regiment.
Some are said to have seen frontline action "very recently" and at least one of the group is still a member of an SAS reserve squadron. The men cannot be identified for reasons of national security.
The police, who are understood to have spent more than £1m investigating the incident said they had uncovered the special forces backgrounds of the protesters.
One friend of the men said: "It just shows how passionately people feel about this issue that men who were prepared to sacrifice everything for their country, and have put themselves in very difficult situations, are prepared to go to these lengths."
The trial date has been set for Tuesday, March 29th