A student official who said he spent ten nights in prison after unfurling a protest banner at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham has spoken of his “hell” after his court case was dropped.
Edward Bauer, vice president education at the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students, walked free from the city’s crown court on Tuesday.
He had been due to stand trial for unfurling the sign, reading “Traitors Not Welcome”, on a bridge above Broad Street during the Liberal Democrat gathering in Birmingham last autumn.
But the 23-year-old, who said he spent ten nights in Birmingham Prison on remand, was cleared of a charge of causing danger by causing an item to be in the road.
Mr Bauer, of Ivy Road, Stirchley, said the case was dropped when the prosecution offered no evidence.
The geography graduate, who said he was mugged on his first day in prison, said: “I feel like I’ve been through hell.
“But what we should think about is the context of political policing. What’s happened to me has happened to hundreds of people, who are being put through equally ludicrous charges.
“I unfurled the banner and I’m proud of that fact – it wasn’t a crime to do so.
“The judge said he was unsure why the case had come to court and he had never seen a case like it.
"The prosecution said they could only offer their most profuse apologies to the court for wasting time.”
Mr Bauer later tweeted: “Most amusing quote from the prosecution – ‘can we have a half a hour recess so we can try to find some evidence’.”
Liberal Democrat MP for Yardley, John Hemming, had been due to give evidence on Mr Bauer’s behalf and said it had been a “misconceived prosecution”.
Mr Hemming said: “I was going to say in his defence ‘what’s wrong with putting up a banner that’s rude about me?’”
Charges were also dropped against Mr Bauer’s co-defendants who were Daniel Lindley, aged 21, and Simon Furse, aged 20.
A West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “On September 16, 2011, three individuals climbed onto a bridge which joins the International Convention Centre and The Hyatt Hotel on Broad Street, Birmingham, and unfurled a banner across one of the main routes into the city to protest against university fees.
“The three men were arrested and they were later charged with causing danger to road users by an object place on or above a road.
"This charge referred to four metal objects that fell onto the road from the banner, not for the placing the banner itself.
“On the day of the trial, officers from West Midlands Police informed us that the key evidence, which were the four metal objects, had been misplaced and they were unable to locate them.
“As part of our continuing duty to keep cases under review, a Crown Advocate carried out a further review in light of this and a decision was made to discontinue the prosecution.”