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Police drop “Bollocks to Blair” charges

A Leicestershire businessman has spoken of his “total disappointment” that police have dropped charges against him for selling shirts emblazoned with the logo “Bollocks to Blair”.

“I was looking forward to taking it to court in Norfolk and fighting it if need be to the European Court,” said Tony Wright of Embassy GB Ltd, one of two companies issued with a fixed penalty notice and fine of £80 at last year’s Royal Norfolk Show for displaying the “Bollocks to Blair” t-shirts (news, 6 July 2006).

He added: “I had 100 people prepared to come to court on horseback to support me, wearing the Bollocks to Blair shirts.”

In a statement, Norfolk Police said there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute Mr Wright, but defended the actions of the police officer at Royal Norfolk Show. At the time, the force charged Mr Wright under Section Five of the Public Order Act,
because the language was deemed to cause “harassment, distress or alarm”. It said it had acted on a complaint from the public.

In a statement released last week, a police spokesman said: “Officers are able to use their discretion and are empowered to take reasonable and necessary courses of action when dealing with a complaint.”

While Mr Wright disputed the penalty notice and fine, the other company, Splash,
decided to pay up and comply. The police spokesman said the decision not to prosecute Mr Wright had no effect on Splash’s payment — which was still valid.

Splash co-director Tom Williams told H&H he was pleased Mr Wright’s fine had been overturned but said he was happy with his decision to pay up last year.

“Although I thought the fine was preposterous, I felt it would have been a complete waste of taxpayers’ money to fight. I wasn’t prepared to get a criminal record over it, and the point — how stupidly the police behaved — had already been made in H&H and the rest of the media,” he said. “Many people offered money and legal
support to fight it, but I chose not to.”

This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (29 March, ’07)

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