AN ANIMAL exports protester accused of ignoring a police order had his conviction overturned this week.
Peter Nicholls, 24, a member of Thanet Against Live Exports, was wrongly accused of breaching an order put in place during a protest against live animals exports at the Canterbury East roundabout in September last year.
He was found guilty at Folkestone Magistrates' Court on May 9 this year and was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs.
He appealed against the decision and returned to Canterbury Crown Court on Monday for a hearing that ran over three days and, on Wednesday, he was found not guilty.
Officers had issued Mr Nicholls with a section 14 order forbidding him from stepping into roads used by lorries transporting sheep or doing anything that might intimidate drivers.
Mr Nicholls was accused of breaking the order when he cross the road and was arrested.
The court decided the section 14 order imposed during a protest at the port could not be imposed at Canterbury East roundabout two miles away.
Mr Nicholls said: "I feel very, very relieved that justice has been done and my life can go back to normal, to the way it was a year before this all happened.
"I am very grateful to the whole campaign group who have supported me in all manner of ways through the past year – they have all been fantastic, especially those who came to court to support me and all who gave evidence."
Mr Nicholls was able to claim back the £750 he was ordered to pay and claim other expenses.
Mr Nicholls said he will use some of the money claimed to fund the campaign against live exports.
Reg Bell of Thanet Against Live Exports said: "It is wonderful news. It proves that at all times our demonstrations have been peaceful and non-confrontational."
Mr Nicholls said he will continue to campaign peacefully against the live exports trade.