On 12th March 2010. Andrew Norman, host and organiser of Thimbleberry Music Festival in County Durham, UK is due to appear in Durham Crown Court facing the charge of "permitting the use of cannabis on his premises" relating to alleged use by the festival-goers of cannabis at the last September festival. No-one was, I believe, arrested at the festival. In effect he is to be prosecuted for the alleged offences of other people, who have not themselves been charged, and whose actions were not under his control anyway.
Despite the tenuous nature of the allegations, this a serious charge. He could face jail.
The injustice of this action, that he is to be prosecuted for the actions of others, makes a mockery of the law. I, personally, believe that people should be held accountable for their own actions and that this case is a travesty of justice where one man is being held accountable for the alleged offences of people on his land.
This case has wider implications for anybody organising any kind of public event in the UK - if event organisers are to be held liable for the actions of the public at their events, then surely many events will cease to operate, particularly those operated by companies who will not wish to take the risk this case presents.
Those events which do continue will have to consider far more active 'policing' of the public at their events, an attitude which is unlikely to make people feel welcome.
The police also confiscated £3,513.70 of festival takings as 'proceeds of crime', causing obvious financial problems for Andrew and the festival.
The trial, the loss of monies, the stress and the problems that this prosecution is causing Andrew and his family has meant that the June festival has had to be cancelled and plans for the September festival are on hold with the future of the festival in severe doubt. This will be a big loss to the festival scene as it is one of only a few to be held in the North East.
I created a Facebook group to bring the facts of this case to the public, as the mainstream media have yet to give this story any coverage. The group has attracted over 15,000 supporters but that, in itself, does little to help Andrew Norman or the festival.
A link to the Facebook group:
A link to photos from the festival:
A link to the festival website:
A link to the only media coverage of the case so far: