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Dundee welfare activist Tony Cox hits out at DWP after trial

Tony Cox is supported by welfare rights activists outside Forfar Sheriff Court.
Tony Cox is supported by welfare rights activists outside Forfar Sheriff Court.

A Dundee welfare rights activist has launched a blistering attack on the Department for Work and Pensions following the conclusion of his trial at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Tony Cox said the initial allegation of threatening behaviour made to police was an attempt to try to stop him from doing his job and to make him out as a troublemaker or a thug.

Cox, 52, of Baxter Park Terrace, was fined £200 by Sheriff Gregor Murray after being found guilty of refusing to give his name, address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality when asked to do so by two police officers at Arbroath Jobcentre on January 29.

He was also found guilty of hindering two police officers in the execution of their duty on Chalmers Street on the same date but was subsequently admonished.

A charge of threatening behaviour by shouting and swearing, acting in an intimidating manner and refusing to leave Arbroath Jobcentre was dropped by the Crown during the trial.

Afterwards, Cox said: “The initial allegation about my behaviour at the jobcentre was malicious.

“That was demonstrated by the fact that the threatening behaviour charge was dropped.

“The subsequent charges should also have been dropped because I would never have been put in that position had the complaint not been made against me in the first place.

“I think that’s clear proof that the DWP are generating complaints in an attempt to try to create a narrative around myself and my group that we are troublemakers and we are thugs.”

Cox attended the jobcentre with a benefit claimant and was accused of being “aggressive and intimidating” by staff.

They claimed he had refused to leave and called the police.

PC Nikki Harrison, 43, and PC Suzanne Stark, 39, yesterday told the court they arrived to find Cox already outside the jobcentre.

PC Harrison said Cox was “consistently obnoxious” and was asked “several times” for his details before he was arrested.

Cox then gave evidence and told the court he had done nothing wrong inside the jobcentre and was “surprised” to be met by police outside.

He said he gave them his name but refused to give them any further details when asked.

Cox told the court: “No crime had been committed.

“As far as I understand it I don’t need to give them my details unless I have been involved in a crime or witnessed a crime and that was not the case.”

Defence agent Phil Templeton argued that police had not followed the correct procedure with regards the arrest and as such he asked the sheriff to consider an absolute discharge.

Sheriff Murray, however, fined him £200 on charge two and admonished him on charge three, describing both charges as being “very much at the lower end of the scale”.

Outside the court a protest was held in support of Mr Cox.

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