Birmingham students arrested
Three Birmingham university students were arrested on Friday 16 September after hanging a banner outside the Liberal Democrat conference which read “Traitors not welcome, Hate Clegg, Love NCAFC”, which stands for National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts.
The three were held for traffic offences.
The prosecution alleged that debris fell from the banner which could have caused danger to road users, although it was noted that no harm or damage was incurred.
Two of the students were granted bail but the third, Edd Bauer, remained in custody for a further 10 days due to previous convictions.
He was later released on bail after public outcry from locals and fellow students including a demonstration attended by over 70 people.
Speaking in his defence, John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary member for Birmingham Yardley said: “Whilst I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is disproportionate to keep him in prison any longer.”
Many others have expressed concern about the degree of punishment in this case.
A letter to The Guardian, signed by Clare Short, leading members of the NUS, NCAFC and Unite amongst others, stated that: “If the plan is to ‘take out’ key individuals to disrupt protest movements, the result has been to give a new set of activists a crash-course in campaigning against injustice.”
Since being granted bail further controversy has been caused surrounding Mr Bauer’s suspension from his job as Vice-President of Education and Access at the Birmingham University Student’s Guild.
Mr Bauer has released a statement saying: “This is an undemocratic suspension and I will continue with my work campaigning to defend education at the University of Birmingham, which continues to face grave difficulties.”
Mr Bauer went on to voice concern over the lack of democracy at the Birmingham University Student’s Guild as the decision to suspend him was made by non-student trustees and not the student council.
There is currently a petition and campaign calling for his reinstatement.
The campaign has received signatures from the Birmingham Green Party and the RMT Union leader, Bob Crow.