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Seriously ill Meriden resident is 'not scared' to go jail for right to protest against gypsies

A DESPERATELY ill pensioner says he’s willing to go to jail to defend his right to protest againt the Meriden gypsy camp.

A DESPERATELY ill pensioner says he’s willing to go to jail to defend his right to protest againt the Meriden gypsy camp.

Despite suffering from heart failure, lung disease, and being reliant on oxygen and a wheelchair, Russ Thomas says he refuses to be intimidated into leaving the protest camp, by Solihull Council’s ‘threats’ of jail.

“If they want to send us to prison then we’ll go,” said the 72-year-old.

“I’m not scared to go for something I believe in. We all feel absolutely let down by the council.

“It shows what lengths they’re willing to go to if they send someone like me to prison, for exercising my right to peaceful protest.”

Mr Thomas is just one of many elderly protesters who will not leave their 24 hour vigil without a fight.

Gill Hone, aged 68, said she was terrified of the prospect of prison but it wouldn’t stop her from continuing to protest.

“I think it’s totally wrong for anyone to go to jail for protesting against an illegal development.

“Of course I’m scared, but we will never stop protesting. I just hope the council sees sense so it doesn’t come to that.

“The council clearly don’t know how strongly we feel about it.”

Protesters claim Solihull Council could prosecute members leading to a jail sentence or fines of up to £50,000 if they do not vacate the camp forthwith.

David McGrath, leader of Residents Against Inappropriate Development, RAID, speaking of the council, said

“There’s a lot of bravado but people are understandably worried.

“But we want the right to protest and no amount of threat of persecution by the travellers or prosecution by the council is going to make us move.”

There was no comment from Solihull Council as we went to press.

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