ABC gardening personality Peter Cundall has been found guilty of disobeying the direction of a police officer during a rally at Parliament House in Hobart.
Cundall, 84, and 56 other protesters were arrested after refusing to move from the Parliament’s steps during an anti-pulp mill protest in November 2009.
Cundall and fellow protester Molly Taylor were today found guilty without conviction and were ordered to pay about $47 in court costs.
David Killick, Mercury:
TV gardener Peter Cundall’s long fight against a criminal charge arising from an anti-pulp mill protest has ended with a magistrate finding the offence proven.
In the Magistrates Court in Hobart today, Magistrate Chris Webster found that Cundall had failed to comply with a police direction outside Parliament House in November 2009.
He did not impose a conviction on the condition the 83-year-old not breach the Police Offences Act for three years, although Cundall will have to pay $47 court costs.
Cundall was among 57 mainly middle-aged and elderly protesters arrested outside Parliament House in November 2009 during a protest against the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in the state’s north.
Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms Shane Donnelly asked the protesters to move from the building’s entrance to the lawns a short distance away.
All those arrested were charged with failing to comply with a police direction
Magistrate Webster found the direction was reasonable and that the protesters could have move 15 metres and continued unmolested.
“The act of Mr Donnelly in asking the defendants to move from the steps/platform in front of Parliament House, in the circumstances were not unreasonable or an unreasonable fetter on any rights that the defendants may have had to demonstrate peacefully,” he said.
“There is no suggestion that the Parliament of Tasmania prohibits unreasonable demonstrations.
“I do not consider that the relevant laws infringed any constitutional right to demonstrate.”
Flanked by two dozen supporters on the steps of the court, Mr Cundall said he was disappointed the charge had been found proven.
“We didn’t feel that we broke the law, we didn’t feel that we did anything wrong,” he said.
“When I look at these people here behind me – and I speak as a bloke who has travelled all over the world and has served in three wars – I’ve never met more decent and courageous and law-abiding people than these people here.
“I have complete respect for the rule of law, but I also respect justice and justice hasn’t been delivered in our Parliament because our Pulp Mill Assessment Act went through corruptly and there is no question about that.
“The battle against the pulp mill will never stop and we will never give in.”
Mr Cundall said that if he had been protesting in favour of the pulp mill he would have been asked inside the Parliament and given a cup of tea.
He said he would take part in another protest against the mill tomorrow.
ABC Online, Saturday:
Cundall returns to Parliament House
ABC personality Peter Cundall has returned to the steps of Parliament House in Hobart, despite yesterday’s court verdict over protesting on the same spot.
The 83-year-old was found guilty of disobeying the direction of a police officer and was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond without conviction.
He and 56 other protesters were arrested after refusing to move from the steps of Parliament House during an anti-pulp mill rally in November 2009.
Cundall, who was this morning handing out anti-pulp mill pamphlets, says he has had plenty of people offering him support.
“It seems to me that almost everybody that’s come up to me is fully supportive of what I’m doing and what I’m standing up for,” he said.