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.
How long to pay off the fine ..
£5 a month?
He should have been referred for psychiatric assessment. Graffiti is a criminal offence and should be taken far more seriously by the courts. It makes areas look run down and it’s been proven to be mentally depressing..
Totally agree, it’s a bloody eyesore. We need to attract people to Broadstairs, Margate & Ramsgate not deter them from visiting our lovely coastline. Nothing worse than graffiti to make a place look like ghetto land.
I agree Bill if Mr Driver is normal I’m well pleased with myself.
He should’ve paid the ultimate price for his crimes… sent back to Leeds!
Oh no! That’s just too much!
yeah – but it could be worse , imagine being locked in the same cell with him , i think i would opt for the firing squad.
It probably wasn’t the wisest move that Ian Driver has ever made, but he took his punishment on the chin. It was just a little bit of spray-paint, with an anti-racist theme, on monuments with a strong link to racism. No violence, no bullying, just an authentic attack on what he perceives to be racist. It’s not like he was convicted of a violent attack on a disabled activist, like the partner of the (former) Leader of the Council was a couple of months ago
Morris dancers blacking up is racist! Ian is the loosest of loose canons, and I understand his frustration, and taking direct action, but there are other ways other than criminal damage! I staged a one man demonstration in my GP’s waiting room a few years ago, because there was a culture of concealing specialists diagnosis from patients, but only after I informed the police first that I was going to make a peaceful protest!
He wants people to notice him
He gets his jollies from it
Basically he’s got off with it!
He won’t pay the fines !
I suspect we will pay his fines via benefits? Cannot see this individual being employable.
Apart from the fine, he should have been made to do say 50 community hours removing other graffiti in Thanet. And same applies to all others who commit similar offences. And that goes for those who don’t clean up after their dogs, drop litter etc etc.
Why waive the costs? That just means it has cost us more than it cost him. That’s not much of a deterrent.
perhaps hes thanets answer to banksy ?
Banksy has talent and operates anonymously under cover of darkness as he doesn’t want anyone to know who he is.
Driver has no talent ( or any other redeeming features ) and gets himself photographed in the act as he wants everyone to know who he is…..
You cannot have it both ways, unless Banksy has permission to paint on a wall it is no different to Ian Drivers offence. It gives others the perception that this is OK and something to emulate.
Banksy still does graffiti and should be caught and fined. Just because the arty people like banksy’s graffiti doesn’t make right.
Graffiti is graffiti. But as with most things in life theres one rule for one and one rule for another.
Of course, if any of us displayed a manky bed full of junk & bacteria we would be called talentless, filthy vermin, the council would tow it away to the tip & send you the bill for it being a health hazard. Emin does it & it gets put in galleries, feted like it is the Holy Grail & as if she is an old master & sells for 3 something million.
Try replacing the “B” with a “W”.
I’m not sure this sends out a good message – £200 per offence? And the fine doesn’t even go towards the clean up.
There’s a nutter going round Birchington putting little stickers on anything and everything, it’s offensive and defaces the village; TDC and the police have images of him (Wayne) doing it yet he’s still active. Why?
It’s about time we clamped down on graffiti, fly posting and all those crappy little anti everything stickers – pay the fine and then get out there to clean up the mess or pay for someone else to do it. Repeat offenders get double and so on.
Meanwhile the local BLM group can graffiti walls & project things onto tower blocks with the full backing of the council & the ‘art’ luvvies & get grants for doing so.
I consider Ian to be part of Thanet’s conscience. I value the contribution he makes and enjoy his tendency to be flamboyant. His research discovers things we should all have known already. In his spirit of being open and truthful I have to also declare I consider him to be a friend.
Well said, Sharon!
You must both be lefties.
I don’t think an area can have a conscience, not even metaphorically.
You are right. What’s more, Ian Driver does not represent Thanet in any way or form. He is an ex-councillor, to boot.
As an Ex Councillor he must at some stage been voted in by local people who believed he represented their views/wishes
Councillors are usually voted in on a class basis in Britain. Ian Driver has been elected in the past on a party platform, Labour then Green. Both parties became fed up with him and so Ian Driver tried a comeback as an independent which ended up as a rejection by an electorate. He should have thrown his lot in with the local Trotskyites, his true political home. But even they are not too keen on a loose cannon with an over-inflated ego. They are not too keen on democratic elections, either.
“Research”? Are you kidding??
I am with you there Sharon
Are you the cartoonist and well-known racist?
is there such a word as leedsist ? if there is i expect someone will find it.
Having lived in Leeds for part of your life- even if you were born there- does not mean that you “belong” there.
I was born in Ramsgate … so I belong here. It is called one’s home town. I use “belong” in that context.
You must be of the Ramsgate Volksgeist then Robert?
I was born in Ammanford, but after a few days my mother and I left the hospital and never returned to Ammanford except to visit cousins. Does that mean I “belong to” Ammanford? Do I, indeed, “belong to” anywhere?
People in these comments seem more worried about the graffiti than the racism Mr Driver was trying to draw attention to. Have a think about what you should really care about.
Well done Mr Driver, message was loud and clear. Seems to have annoyed the right people.
It was wrong and has be proven wrong however it is now been dealt with in a court of law and some of the nasty remarks posted shows why perhaps Ian took the drastic course of action he did .
And as to Black Lives matter not really mattering in Britain or indeed Broadstairs is a saddening ignorant view too .even the hints that he should return to Leeds smack of the very racism he was wildly highlighting ! however do disagree on the Morris dancers who represent I believe sweeps mostly ?
Ian Driver took the “drastic course of action” because he thought he was above the law and that using the word “racist” would give him the moral high ground. He seeks out racism where none exists, even within the Morris Dancing fraternity and Charles Dickens. But he has been exposed after a court ruling. He is now a criminal in the eyes of the law. But, perhaps, the judge is a racist, as well, for handing out the sentence. This would follow his strange logic.
No, Morris dancers, even blackface Morris dancers don’t mostly represent sweeps. Mr Driver seems to have got his meagre information from American sociologists.
More *anksy than Banksy
This individual should have been jailed And made to pay costs, I also suggest those who consider border Morris sides “racist” should do some research before making themselves look stupid
Nice bit of reporting by Suzanne Martin