Occupy Oxfam!

Oxfam is seeking court action to ban a pensioner from one of its shops, and is asking him to pay a £10,000 legal bill.

But Barry Nowlan, 63, of Taunton, says he has a legitimate complaint about Oxfam’s “political campaigning.”

The charity banned the retired bank clerk and Lloyds shareholder from its shop at The Bridge in Taunton after he complained about a poster which highlighted Oxfam’s call for a “Robin Hood” tax of banks and financial institutions.

The charity accuses Mr Nowlan of causing: “great distress” and “harassing volunteers”.

He denies the claims but admits entering the building since Oxfam banned him by letter.

Oxfam says seeking an injunction at county court is a “last resort.”

Mr Nowlan said on Friday: “Oxfam claims its Robin Hood Tax will come from bank profits and bankers’ bonuses, not from the ordinary people”. But banks are owned by shareholders.

“They are pension funds and ordinary people like me.

“I retired at 49 through ill-health. My pensions are small but I had the benefit of dividends (mainly from my Lloyds Bank shares) until the last few years.

“As you know, Lloyds\’ share value fell from a peak of £11 to barely 30p. now. The dividends represented about one-third of my income. So I was not best pleased to see Oxfam\’s window display deceiving people.

So, should Mr. Nolan be prosecuted as UKUncut peeps in TopShop were or not?

Or does this sort of thing depend upon what you\’re protesting about, not the protesting itself?

22 thoughts on “Occupy Oxfam!”

  1. Or does this sort of thing depend upon what you’re protesting about, not the protesting itself?

    It depends on exactly how you go about the protest. Is he causing criminal damage or a breach of the peace? No, then no prosecution and Oxfam’s action to get a court order legally banning him from entering the shop is appropriate, even if it is unfortunate that it has had to go this far.

  2. Instinctively I would say no as I agree with him. However if he has broken a law then he must pay the price.

  3. If he goes into the shop and they’ve asked him not to, he’s committed trespass. If he fails to leave when directed to by a police officer he’s committed an offence under s61 CJPOA 1994 (up to three months or up to £2500 fine). If he intimidates the staff, disrupts or obstructs lawful activity in the shop he’s committed aggravated trespass – this last is what some UK Uncutprotesters have been charged with.

    I don’t think this kind of protest constitutes criminality but otoh (1) I don’t see why proprietors shouldn’t be free to conduct their lawful activity as they see fit and (2) I’m otherwise not sure what they / society are supposed to do with serial ‘offenders’. I don’t see why the shop should have to get a court order as asking the protester not to enter their shops should be enough. If the staff aren’t supposed to use force to bundle him out because the state has an effective monopoly on violence, the state should be backing up the staff.

    I’d say the same of the UK Uncut protesters, too, although in the F&M case it seems the police complicated things by asking / preventing the protesters from leaving…

  4. They are entitled to forbid him from entering, and if he still enters the building he is trespassing. Then they are entitled to get a court order.

    I have no problem with either of the above.

    £10,000 is an awful lot for a court order which can be had by filling out a couple of forms though. If he contested the order and insisted on a hearing he has only his self to blame for the costs (assuming they are in fact reasonable). It’s not clear from the story but the impression is given that there was no hearing, and they are just loading up the costs.

    Finally aggravated trespass (criminal offence) is something different altogether, and requires you to trespass with the intent of breaking the law (e.g. criminal damage) or interfering with lawful activity on the property (e.g. preventing a shoot etc. from taking place). It’s not clear that applies here.

  5. Oxfam – 26% State Funded

    8% of its total funding spent on ‘the right to be heard – raising people’s awareness of their rights …’

    Unless of course its their right to be heard decrying the actions of Oxfam

  6. @ukliberty: Oxfam and their staff are entitled to use reasonable force to eject any trespasser.

    They may choose to call the police to assist if they are concerned a breach of the peace may result, but they don’t have to.

    There is no state monopoly on force in any democratic nation.

    The law states what force may be used, and the additional powers the police have to use force are surprisingly small. Under almost all circumstances where the police may use force any citizen may, though this equality has been undermined by extensions to police powers in recent years.

  7. Private property*. Free country*.

    Oxfam are well within their negative rights to prevent entry and wear their ignorance on their sleeve (or in this case – shop window).

    I completely sympathise with Barry Nowlan’s frustration.

    The same property rights should of course make Oxfam’s attempts to raid his pension pot meaningless.

    *In theory.

  8. Ben,

    Finally aggravated trespass (criminal offence) is something different altogether, and requires you to trespass with the intent of breaking the law (e.g. criminal damage) or interfering with lawful activity on the property (e.g. preventing a shoot etc. from taking place). It’s not clear that applies here.

    The charity accuses Mr Nowlan of causing: “great distress” and “harassing volunteers”.

    s68 CJPOA (as amended)

  9. Ben,

    There is no state monopoly on force in any democratic nation.

    The law states what force may be used, and the additional powers the police have to use force are surprisingly small. Under almost all circumstances where the police may use force any citizen may, though this equality has been undermined by extensions to police powers in recent years.

    I didn’t claim the state has a monopoly on violence, I claimed it has an effective monopoly on violence.

    Try replacing “effective” with practical or “essentially it has a”; my meaning is that people often get into bother when they use force in situations where we might (certainly in retrospect) think they had a ‘right’ to use force. Although I wouldn’t like Oxfam staff to feel they have to use force, I wouldn’t blame them if they feel less inclined due to media reports about how people who use force in such circumstances are arrested by the police and have to suffer waiting while the CPS makes a decision about whether or not to prosecute them.

  10. “My point is that the shopkeeper shouldn’t have to go to court to be able to prevent people from entering his shop.”

    If they are 80% funded by the state then it’s probably not such a bad idea that they have to go to court

  11. Is the Robin Hood Tax a political campaign*? Is so aren’t charities banned from taking part in political campaigns?

  12. If Oxfam wish to prosecute this chap for entering their stores then they have every right to make the attempt and let the court / a jury decide.

    What I would like to know is how do we, as taxpayers whose money is confiscated and given to a “charity” have the buggers up before the beak for acting less and less towards their charitable objects and ever more as a left wing lobby group?

  13. SimonF: charities are barred from partisan campaigns, not policy campaigns. From time to time they do, if I remember rightly, have to be able to defend policy campaigns as consistent with their wider aims.

  14. Surely he can claim a complete belief in the wrongness of Oxfam’s actions, and then he should be able to escape prosecution in the same way that some environmental protestors have. In fact it should be made into a test case that the law is indeed applied equally in this regard.

    And F*** Oxfam who are no longer a charity but a large, bloated, publicly funded misinvestment machine. By campaigning for higher taxation on others they are acting in a purely political way and their charitable status removed. Bunch of twats, too.

  15. Christian Aid realised they’d overstepped their level of political interference a couple of years ago in Jersey. Of course, the Murph was right behind them.

    Wondering what Jesus thinks of tax avoiders ? If you are interested in being beaten over the head by a theological justification for a charity (at last count 21% Government Funded, although this may be out of date) being hijacked by left wing idealists hiding behind Christian dogma, please read: (Health Warning: if you are not being paid by pressure groups to hold and publish the views you do, I’d suggest giving it all a miss)

    http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2009/05/18/a-reply-to-christian-aid-in-jersey/

  16. Christian Aid shouldn’t be allowed to be a charity. I remember being pissed off at school that they were treated as equivalent to Oxfam or Amnesty, when in fact they were obviously a lobby group for being a Jesus-botherer.

    And Murphy is such a cunt. As a left-leaning economist, I wish the dude would fuck off into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, and then stay there forever. Then perhaps we could have some kind of sane debate. I am, however, glad that Luis from these parts has taken my role of “posting on LC whenever Sunny (because bless him, he knows jack about economics) allows such a thing, crucifying the dude from a left-wing-economist pointy of view”. Cos it was getting wearing.

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