Belfast Telegraph

Union flag protester Jamie Bryson to stand trial for allegedly taking part in unlawful public processions

By Alan Erwin

High-profile Union flag protester Jamie Bryson will stand trial next month for allegedly taking part in a series of unlawful public processions, it was confirmed today.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court listed the case against him for a contested hearing on February 11.

The 24-year-old is charged with participating in four un-notified public processions at the height of the dispute in Belfast during January and February 2013.

Mass protests were being staged at the time over the decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag at City Hall.

Bryson's bid to clear his name had been on hold due to a preliminary legal dispute over the standards of proof required in the case.

Defence and prosecution lawyers had advanced conflicting opinions on the legislation being used to prosecute him.

The Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 includes a defence to the charge if the accused did not know or suspect the event was un-notified.

Lawyers for Bryson, from Rosepark in Donaghadee, Co Down, argued that he only has to raise the issue of ignorance.

They contended that the burden then switches to the prosecution to establish he knew the demonstrations breached the legislation.

But earlier this month District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled instead that Bryson must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that he was unaware they breached the law.

He has the opportunity to exonerate himself by showing he did not know or suspect the processions were unlawful, she held.

Returning to the case today, Judge Bagnall confirmed the contest will be held in four weeks time.

Bryson remains on bail until then.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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