Occupy Sydney released the statement below on January 11.
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Yesterday at The Downing Centre, Occupy Sydney successfully challenged the definition of the term ‘Camping’ used by NSW Police in their attempts to evict protestors from Martin Place.
High profile criminal barrister Peter Lavac argued that the arrest of Lance Priestley was unlawful given the fact that he was not occupying a tent or similar structure when arrested.
After nearly three hours of testimony from NSW Police officers The Magistrate upheld Mr Lavac’s submission that the prosecution had failed to establish a case against Mr Priestley on his charges of ‘camping’ and added that on the charge of ‘Staying Overnight’ Mr Priestley had been arrested in the late evening before the night was over, and that the prosecution failed to tender evidence of an intention to stay overnight.
Using several dictionary definitions and the NSW Homeless Protocol, Mr Lavac established that Mr Priestley had acted peacefully, and had been deprived of his liberty for no good reason. Mr Lavac referred in court to a failure by the police to seek a dictionary definition of ‘camping’, so that ironically, they were applying the law in ignorance, a point born out by Mr Priestly’s court win yesterday.
Speaking to Occupy Sydney Mr Lavac said: “Thank God that we still have independent courts in this country. Thank God we still have a free press in this country. These are the last remaining bastions of democracy in this country. This result today sends a clear message to the Government and the Police that the community will not tolerate attempts to interfere with citizens rights to peacefully protest. I would have thought that the considerable police manpower that has been used on peaceful protesters would have been better put to use in Tamworth trying to catch real criminals such as Malcolm Naden.”