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Independent probe urged into prosecution of Sikh temple protesters

Gursharan and Kulvinder Singh were acquitted of acting unlawfully at a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

The Sikh Federation has called for an independent investigation into the “totally unnecessary” prosecution of two brothers who were arrested during a protest at a temple.

A trial at Birmingham Crown Court, which ended on Tuesday, heard that 55 protesters were detained after armed police were deployed to a Sikh temple in Leamington Spa on September 11 2016.

The proceedings ended in the acquittal of Gursharan and Kulvinder Singh, both from Coventry, who were accused of pulling an official’s tie and taking down laminated signs inside the gurdwara.

Commenting on the case, Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the UK’s Sikh Federation, said: “We welcome the unanimous decision of jurors to acquit the two brothers and feel vindicated as we have said all along these prosecutions were totally unnecessary.

“This was a lawful, peaceful protest where Warwickshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service appear to have been given incorrect and false information by members of the Leamington Gurdwara management committee.

“There should be an independent investigation as this incident at that time brought the law-abiding Sikh community into serious disrepute with a massive over-reaction with armed police being deployed on the anniversary of 9/11.”

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Gursharan Singh denied the charge of acting unlawfully (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Singh said headlines at the time of the incident were fuelled by an “irresponsible” press statement released by police, which said a significant number of bladed weapons were seized at the scene.

A further statement issued later the same day said the blades seized had been ceremonial and that an inquiry was taking place into the initial report that other weapons were involved.

Kulvinder Singh’s lawyer, Talbir Singh, told the trial that lawful protest had been part of the fabric of British society for many, many years, and that the case was “the largest hammer you will ever see to crack the smallest nut”.

Chief Superintendent Alex Franklin-Smith, of Warwickshire Police, denied a claim made by the Sikh Federation that an officer from Warwickshire Police had apologised for the force’s actions.

Mr Franklin-Smith said: “We have been clear that we would respond in the same way should something similar happen again.

“Our call handlers are trained to make quick decisions in response to the information they are provided with. We take no risks. Our number one priority in dealing with any incident such as this is to ensure a safe outcome.

“All the information provided to the media throughout the course of the day was accurate and based on the latest information available to us.”

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