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>The following is a press release that I will be putting out in advance of the first Fitwatch trial next Tuesday. Please forward widely. Anyone who has nothing better to do and wants to turn up on the day is more than welcome.

Cardiff-based political activist Val Swain, 42, to challenge police harassment at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Tuesday 9 October.

Ms Swain is charged with obstructing a police cameraman who was filming people arriving at a meeting held on 28 April 2007 at the University of London Union on Malet Street. The meeting had been called to voice protest at the holding of Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) in London Docklands, the world’s largest arms fair.

Val Swain will argue that such intrusive filming is unlawful:

“It is unacceptable in any sort of free society that police are permitted to build up secret files on people who attend political meetings. So far the police have refused to disclose exactly what they have done with all these photographs, or why they wanted photos of people attending a public meeting in the first place. They have also refused to disclose the extent of the police file that has been built up on me over the years. Unless they are prepared to come clean over all this, I will argue, they cannot possibly begin to justify the intrusion of privacy that has taken place. And without that justification, what they have done, and continue to do, is unlawful.”

Swain went on to say:

“I think I have a very good case. But even if I win, I cannot see an end to political intimidation now that the New Labour government has handed over so much power to the police and intelligence services. And it is because we cannot rely on the protection of the law that FITWATCH was born earlier this year. Now activists are playing the police at their own game, filming officers and posting their photos along with name, rank and number to a rapidly expanding website. Activists can download spotter cards to help them identify forward intelligence team (FIT) members and take appropriate action. And activists can share their experiences of police intimidation. Now when we hold meetings we will do everything we can to stop intrusive police filming. No longer will we ignore these attacks on our fundamental rights to freedom of expression. Enough is enough.”

For more information contact Val on val.swain@yahoo.co.uk

And visit http://www.fitwatch.blogspot.com/

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