Essex

Dale Farm protester Ellen Yianni cleared of concealing face

  • 17 January 2012
  • From the section Essex
Ellen Yianni and Jonathan May-Bowles
Image caption Ellen Yianni's boyfriend Jonathan May-Bowles attacked Rupert Murdoch

A protester against the eviction of residents at the Dale Farm travellers' site in Essex has been cleared of a public order offence.

The charge of failing to remove a face covering against Ellen Yianni, 26, of Hounslow, west London, was dismissed at Southend Magistrates' Court.

Ms Yianni's boyfriend Jonathan May-Bowles cheered in court at the verdict.

He earned notoriety by attacking media tycoon Rupert Murdoch with a foam pie at the House of Commons in July.

'Police intimidation'

District Judge John Woollard said he was not satisfied there was a case to answer as he dismissed the charge against Ms Yianni.

Raj Chada, defending, accused police officers of a "campaign of intimidation" and said they did not have a reasonable belief Ms Yianni was trying to conceal her identity when she was arrested on 19 October.

He said such a belief was a key aspect of the temporary power to order the removal of face coverings granted to police during the clearance of the illegal part of Dale Farm.

Mr Chada pointed out that in two video clips played in court, one filmed by a legal observer and the other by ITN News, Ms Yianni was not covering her face and police could have established her identity.

Diane Chanteau, prosecuting, alleged Ms Yianni pulled a scarf up to cover her face as she was led away by officers.

May-Bowles, who was jailed for six weeks for the attack on Mr Murdoch, cheered from the public gallery when Ms Yianni was told she was free to go.

His original six-week sentence after he admitted assault and causing harassment was reduced to four weeks on appeal.

The clearance of Dale Farm followed a decade-long row over unauthorised plots on the six-acre travellers' site near Basildon.

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