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Welfare activist threatened with arrest

Dundee welfare activist Tony Cox has been threatened with arrest if he attends the scheduled SUWN (Scottish Unemployed Workers Network) protest in Arbroath on Thursday. He was arrested outside the centre last Thursday. He had been at the centre to assist and advocate for a vulnerable claimant. Centre staff denied his right to do this and called the police. He has been charged with threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest.

Tony was visited by two police officers on Wednesday evening to warn him that if he attends the scheduled protest meeting at Arbroath JC this Thursday he would be risking arrest for breaching his bail conditions. In fact, there is nothing in the bail conditions that forbids him from being in the vicinity of Arbroath JC. Tony says he will therefore be going along to the protest.

We trust that the police will facilitate this legitimate protest and will respect Tony's right to participate in it.

The protest will be held from 1pm Thursday 5 February, outside the Jobcentre, 2 Chalmers Street, Arbroath D11 1PP (more details).

SACC sends its solidarity and best wishes

SUWN says:

"JSA claimants have the right to have someone with them when they go to the jobcentre, and the agreement that they make with the jobcentre has to be reasonable and consider their circumstances. In this case the agreement was far from reasonable, but when Tony, who had accompanied the claimant to a prearranged meeting, attempted to help negotiate more suitable terms, the jobcentre manager responded by telling him to leave the building and calling the police. By the time the police came, Tony and the claimant, D, had already left (with the promise of a further meeting), however he has been charged with threatening behavior, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest. His bail conditions forbid him with having any contact with D, who is a witness, and he is also forbidden from going into or making contact with Arbroath jobcentre until the case comes to trial, which has been set for 25th February at Forfar Sheriff Court.

We demand that welfare activists are not prevented from conducting their work and nothing be put in the way of benefit claimants’ fundamental right to advice and representation."