Belfast Telegraph

High-profile Union flag protester Jim Dowson fails in legal attempt to have prosecution halted

By Alan Erwin

High-profile Union flag protester Jim Dowson failed today in a legal attempt to have his prosecution halted.

Lawyers for Mr Dowson were seeking permission to mount a bid to have charges of taking part in an un-notified public procession stopped as an abuse of process.

It was contended that similar criminal proceedings against loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer have already been dropped.

But a judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court refused to hear the application, ruling that it was not appropriate.

Mr Dowson, originally from Scotland but with an address at Burn Road in Comber, Co Down, is now expected to be given a date next month for his trial.

The 50-year-old is charged with four counts of participating in an un-notified public parade.

He is further accused of encouraging or assisting in obstructing traffic by giving an interview to a journalist made available to the public through social media sites.

All of the alleged offences were committed between December 2012 and March 2013.

Mr Dowson is one of the most prominent figures brought before the courts amid demonstrations over the decision to limit the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall.

His legal team argued that the case against him should be stayed to protect the integrity of the criminal justice system.

They challenged the fairness of continuing with the prosecution.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall rejected attempts to advance an abuse of process application.

She listed the case for a further hearing on January 7 when a date for contest is to be fixed.

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