Save Leyton Marsh: Mike Wells freed on bail

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Reports on twitter (#freeMikeWells) indicate that the journalist Mike Wells, was freed today on bail:

after 2 nights in police custody & 6 nights in HMPThameside Mike has been granted bail

This is how writers associated with the Save Leyton Marsh campaign reported Well’s original arrest:

On Thursday 26th, April Mike Wells, a citizen journalist who writes for the Games Monitor website, was filming unsafe working practices on Leyton Marsh at the ‘chaotically managed’ Olympic construction site. As a result of his attempt to film and draw attention to the unsafe practices of an excavator working close to pedestrians on Sandy Lane (the pathway running adjacent to Leyton Marsh), Mike was assaulted first by the driver who did not want the activities filmed and was then brutally restrained by a number of bailiffs resulting in injuries to his ribs and forehead … His assailants refused to show ID or explain their actions but appeared very agitated and were ordering people to keep away. One of them was recording the scene and bystanders on video. Police arrived and immediately arrested Mike, who was driven away in handcuffs after being treated for some time in an ambulance.

Wells was then placed in police custody, and originally refused bail, before finally being granted bail today.

For those who want to know more of the context, particularly from the Olympic Development Agency’s perspective, I’d recommend reading the judgment of the High Court which in April granted ODA’s injunction against protesters, not prohibiting them from entering the Marsh, but limiting their means of protesting against its development into an Olympic practice area.

(One of SLM’s criticisms of Wells’ original bail hearing is that the CPS substantially misrepresented the terms of the injunction to the Magistrates, suggesting that Wells, and other members of the public, were excluded from the construction site. As will be seen, the injunction does no such thing).

I have no independent knowledge of the truth or otherwise of this account of Wells’ arrest – or indeed of the bail hearing. But this treatment of Wells, if proven, would accord with other complaints Save Leyton Marsh have about contractors working on the site, which include the allegation that a company solicitor – masquerading as an Evening Standard journalist – was sent to the site to trawl for information that would be embarrassing to the protesters.

I’ve previously discussed the case of Simon Moore, who received the first Olympic ASBO.

These allegations have to be placed within context. The approach of the Olympic authorities generally has been to crack down on anybody (whether commercial or political) who might contaminate their “brand”. As Tom Hickman has reported in the UK constitutional law blog

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006 prohibits businesses from any promotion linked to the games. It would catch, for example, a bed and breakfast offering a discount on rooms to anyone attending the games, or a pub that gets in a big screen to show the Games and publicises the fact on a sign outside.

Businesses are on very risky ground if they make any use of a combination of any two of the protected words “Games”, “2012” or “twenty twelve”, or combination including other secondary protected words, including “gold”, “London” or even “summer” …

The result was highlighted by the Newham Recorder in an article that received coverage on Have I Got News for You, that a local greasy spoon called Café Olympic had been forced to paint over the “O” on its shop sign.

It seems that protesters – as the greatest potential source of brand contamination – are being treated with the greatest contempt.

Finally, those interested in following the Leyton Marsh story should keep an eye on the SLM blog.

 

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