Friday 9 December 2016

Video: Judge jails protester who threw foam pie at Murdoch

Sam Marsden in London

Published 03/08/2011 | 05:00

Jonathan May- Bowles ( left) holding a plate covered in foam as Rupert Murdoch ( third left) addressed the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Photo: PA
Jonathan May- Bowles ( left) holding a plate covered in foam as Rupert Murdoch ( third left) addressed the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Photo: PA

The protester who threw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch was jailed for six weeks yesterday.

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Jonathan May-Bowles (26) pleaded guilty last week to assaulting the 80-year-old media tycoon as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee about the phone hacking scandal.

May-Bowles, also known by his comedy stage name 'Jonnie Marbles', disrupted proceedings by launching a paper plate of shaving foam at Mr Murdoch.

Passing sentence at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London, district judge Daphne Wickham condemned his actions in interrupting the evidence Mr Murdoch was giving to the committee, which she said was "of huge importance" to many people.

"This is a parliamentary process, which as you know conducts itself with dignity and in a civilised fashion," she said.

"Everybody else in the room expected that, with one exception -- you.

"You attended those proceedings with only one intention, to disrupt them."

The judge said she took into account the fear of injury felt by Mr Murdoch, who could not have known what was in the foam pie.

Wearing a check lumberjack shirt and black jeans, May-Bowles stood in the dock without reacting as the sentence was passed.

The incident came towards the end of the media mogul's appearance alongside his son, James, before MPs on July 19.

Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham said May-Bowles smuggled the foam pie into the building hidden in an old shirt, which he discarded in bins in the men's toilets.

The protester got into the committee room as a member of the public but seemed to show little interest in the Murdochs' evidence, even appearing to doze off at several points, the court heard.

Protester

But shortly after committee chairman John Whittingdale announced that the session was drawing to a close, he got up from his seat and walked over to Mr Murdoch.

Pulling a white paper plate from a black plastic bag, he thrust it into the businessman's face.

Mr Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, leapt to his defence, first pushing the protester away and then throwing the plate at him as he was led off.

The media tycoon confirmed in a statement to police that the shaving cream made contact with his skin and clothes.

One police officer described the "bedlam" that followed the attack, with journalists pushing forward and the public trying to get out of the room.

The court heard that Mr Murdoch did not support the charge of assault but the Crown Prosecution Service decided to proceed with the case.

May-Bowles, of Edinburgh Gardens, Windsor, Berkshire, admitted assault and causing harassment, alarm or distress.

Tim Greaves, defending, said the part-time stand-up comic intended to "make a statement" through his actions.

"Slapstick and throwing pies dates back to the 1900s as a recognised form of protest," he said.

"He intended to express how he was feeling and how he believed the British public were feeling, and he sought to do that in the least harmful way he could."

Irish Independent

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