Court reporting Suzanne Martin
A former councillor charged with seven counts of criminal damage has been found guilty on all charges.
Ian Driver, of Sea View Road, Broadstairs, was arrested on June 30 when police carried out an investigation in relation to a series of anti-racism graffiti tags sprayed in Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
The case was due to be heard in April but was adjourned. It was back at Margate Magistrates’ Court today (August 2).
The Broadstairs resident was accused of spraying graffiti on Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council offices at Pierremont Hall, the office of the Broadstairs Folk Week, the Thanet council owned Dickens Museum, the box protecting the controversial Uncle Mack memorial plaque and two street signs in Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
The father-of-three pleaded not guilty to the charges. Prior to the hearing he said his actions were inspired by last year’s Black Lives Matters protests, especially the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol. He said he wanted to highlight links between his hometown and historic and current racism and said he felt forced to take action, saying Kent County Council, Thanet District Council and Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council were supporting and funding a memorial and events which he said are racist.
He claimed he had no other option but to carry out peaceful direct action after continuous blogging about ‘institutional racism,’ did not reap results. The former Green and Labour party member said local authorities were supporting racism through activities such as blacked-up Morris dancers at folk week. Mr Driver says authority funding for this “illegal and in breach of section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 (the public sector equality duty) which requires local authorities and government bodies to:- eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act;”
However, Mr Driver was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to a two year unconditional discharge and fined £1400. Costs were waived.