As one of those who turned up at the Duke of York's cinema expecting to see On The Verge , a documentary dealing with the campaign to close the EDO arms manufacturing factory in Brighton, I was disgusted to discover that because of the
intervention of Sussex Police the film could not be shown.
Having seen the film at another venue later that night, I could understand why Sussex Police were so keen to prevent the people of Brighton from seeing it.
The film shows Sussex Police in a poor light. We also discover something of the closeness of the relationship between Sussex Police and the management of EDO, their solicitors and security personnel.
Paddy O'Keeffe, chair, Brighton Stop the War I was one of the many would-be film-goers turned away from the Duke of York's cinema on Monday following a call from Sussex Police to Brighton and Hove City Council and a subsequent ultimatum from a
council officer to the cinema, threatening the loss of their licence. The council officer raised concerns over the lack of a certificate.
Cinema staff say they were told police had contacted the council to inform them of the potential breach of their licence.
Police have intervened across the country to censor On the Verge an independent documentary about the Smash EDO campaign to shut down the Brighton's weapons manufacturer EDO MBM. So far establishments in Southampton, Chichester, Bath
and Oxford as well as Brighton have come under police pressure to cancel film showings. In Brighton police intervened to prevent a showing at the Duke of York's Cinema, just one hour prior to the scheduled premiere.
Using activist, police and CCTV footage plus interviews with those involved in the campaign, On The Verge ' tells the story of one of the most persistent and imaginative campaigns to emerge out of the UK's anti-war movement and direct
Spokesman for the production company SchMovies, Steven Bishop said I am extremely disappointed but not entirely surprised by the police's action. There may be issues with certification but as we're not charging for entry this shouldn't be an
issue. If the police really had problems over the certificate they could have approached us at a much earlier stage. Our film although focussing mainly on the rights and wrongs of protest shows a number of examples of questionable police behaviour
– Perhaps this is why they left their move so late
Meanwhile the On the Verge Screening Tour continues. The upcoming dates this week are:
25th - Bath. Friends' Meeting Place
26th - Hereford. The Barrels Pub
27th - Bristol. Kebele Social Centre
A controversial documentary prevented from being shown after police intervened has been screened to the public in Brighton.
On The Verge tells the story of protest group Smash EDO's campaign to close Brighton weapons manufacturer EDO MBM Technologies.
When the group tried to show the film on March 17 at the Duke of York's Picturehouse in Brighton, it was stopped after police contacted the council. The officer warned that the cinema would be in breach of its licence by showing the film because it did
not have a certificate from the BBFC.
Smash EDO claims its freedom of speech had been interfered with and arranged a screening at the Friends Meeting House in Ship Street.
A spokeswoman for the BBFC, which classifies films on behalf of local authorities and can be overruled by them, said the council was responsible for granting a licence for film festivals. She said: If you want to show a film in a licensed cinema, it
has to be classified by us or by the local authority - or the cinema will be in breach of its licence under the Licensing Act. There is nothing illegal against showing a film in unlicensed premises because lots of film clubs do it. The problem for
this film is that they tried to show it in a cinema.
Council officials have warned a Leeds club that it could face legal action if it shows an anti-arms manufacturer film without permission.
The documentary, On the Verge , is made by independent radical film makers, SchMovies and focuses on a campaign against weapons manufacturer EDO in Brighton.
The 90-minute film cost less than £500 to make and was filmed over 10 days of demonstrations.
Common Place social club in Leeds city centre plans to show the film but Leeds City Council has asked for a copy of the film so it can be given a classification. A letter from the council's legal, licensing and registration department warns the club of
"enforcement action" if the council is not given a copy of the film.
The Common Place in Wharfe Street is a music venue, and also a base for groups involved in political campaigns. The film is on tour and is coupled with talks about the arms industry. The Common Place plans to show the film on Sunday, April 27, at 2pm.
Club member Paul Chatterton said: We have shown dozens of documentaries on social issues before. We felt the letter was quite threatening because it referred to enforcement action. We were shocked and felt intimidated.
Carl Gallagher of law firm Zermansky's who are representing the club said: The conduct of Leeds City Council gives my client very serious cause for concern. The actions of Leeds City Council are an unnecessary and bureaucratic attack upon free
expression. We will be monitoring the classification procedure very carefully.