Opinion Former Article

PCS: Serwotka backs call for release of Jonnie Marbles

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka has backed a call for the release of the comedian and activist Jonathan May-Bowles, known as Jonnie Marbles, who was jailed for throwing a foam pie in the face of Rupert Murdoch.

Signing a petition to home secretary Theresa May, set up by Defend the Right to Protest, Mark Serwotka said:

"Whatever anyone feels about the action itself, the sentence of six weeks in prison for throwing a foam pie is absurdly harsh.

"This is further evidence of an attempt to deter protest and direct action through increasingly harsh sentencing."

The petition, at www.ipetitions.com/petition/freejonniemarbles, states:

"No one was harmed or put in any physical danger. Murdoch had not wanted to press charges, but the court proceeded anyway.

"District Judge Daphne Wickham, who sentenced Jonnie, is the same person who let Sgt Delroy Smellie off the hook for assaulting Nicola Fisher at the G20 protest where Ian Tomlinson was killed. Wickham ruled that Smellie’s behaviour was lawful despite clear video evidence of him striking Fisher with a baton.

"Jonnie’s excessive sentence for a prank that hurt no one, committed by someone with no criminal record, against a man whose media empire has ruined lives, is yet more evidence of government crackdown on dissent. There are many people who should arguably be in jail for their role in the News International phone hacking affair, but Jonnie is not one of them.

"We call for Jonnie to be released from prison immediately."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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