• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Campaigner cleared of criminal damage at Oxford Covid-19 RECOVERY trials base

Byoxfordnewspaper

Aug 25, 2022

A covid campaigner who camped outside the headquarters of Oxford’s RECOVERY Covid-19 treatment trials was formally cleared of damaging the building.

Geza Tarjanyi, 61, also known as 'Gayzer Frackman', was said to have caused £261-worth of damage to the Richard Doll Building, part of the Nuffield Hospital complex in Headington, during his protest last September.

The Lancashire man was due to stand trial at Oxford Magistrates’ Court yesterday on the single count of criminal damage.

But prosecutor Richard Atkins was forced to offer no evidence after the justices ruled that his sole civilian witness – who arranged the clean up following the protest – would not be allowed to appear in court via video link from Devon, where he is currently on holiday.

Despite the justices refusing an application by the Crown Prosecution Service in early August for the man to give his evidence by video link, the CPS renewed their application earlier this week.

And on Wednesday, presiding magistrate Priscilla Greenall said it was not in the interest of justice for the trial to be refixed for a day when the prosecution’s witness was back from holiday.

Refusing to adjourn the trial, Ms Greenall said: “We have to take into account whose fault it is in these circumstances. We’ve also thought about the consequences of adjourning and not adjourning and we know that the Crown will offer no evidence and the police could not re-charge. We’ve also considered the seriousness of the charge.

“Our view and decision is we will not grant an adjournment for the reasons I have outlined above. It would not be in the interests of justice to do so.”

Earlier, Tarjanyi’s advocate Hibah Rizvi urged the magistrates not to allow the witness to appear via video link. He had been required to attend court so he could view video footage showing the alleged damage left in the wake of her client’s protest.

She said: “The issue today is whether there was Sellotape residue on a wall that required cleaning. In the grand scheme of things we are here because of some sticky tape that could have been cleaned with water.”

Mr Atkins, for the Crown, countered that there was further rubbish left on a ‘gantry’ onto which Tarjanyi had pitched a tent. A firm had been brought in to clear up the mess.

Speaking outside the court after his acquittal, Tarjanyi alleged of the prosecution case: “It’s clutching at straws. We got rid of our rubbish every single day and gave it to their [the university] cleaner.”

He said that there was seven-days’ worth of video footage from his ‘live feeds’ that the prosecution ‘could have used’.

Tarjanyi, of Leyland, Lancashire, added of his Oxford protest: “I exposed the fact this country didn’t need a lockdown.” Chris Whitty and ‘Boris Johnson’s government’ were ‘complicit’ in the deaths of ‘thousands and thousands of people’, he said.

The demonstrator, who said he was currently camped outside Downing Street as part of his latest protest, hit headlines last summer for calling then deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam a ‘traitor’.

Downing Street said the verbal abuse of Prof Van-Tam in London last July was ‘appalling’. “The right to free speech is fundamental to our democracy but violence, threats or intimidation is absolutely never acceptable,” a spokesman said.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward