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Disclosure failure helps clear man over burning Grenfell effigy film

(Posted on 23/08/19)

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Disclosure failure helps clear man over burning Grenfell effigy film

A man who filmed a cardboard effigy of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire has been cleared of posting "grossly offensive" material. Prosecutors claimed footage recorded by Paul Bussetti at a London party was racist but the 47-year-old said it was a "joke" only shared between friends. He was found not guilty after it was revealed a second video from the party had also been shared on WhatsApp. Magistrates said they could not be sure the film was that taken by Mr Bussetti.

The prosecution's handling of evidence in the case was described as "appalling" by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot. Just before Ms Arbuthnot left court to consider her verdict at the end of the two-day trial, defence barrister Mark Summers QC revealed he had just been made aware of evidence that a second video was recorded. He argued it meant there was "absolutely no way" to know which piece of footage had made its way onto YouTube and gone viral.

Clearing Mr Bussetti, Ms Arbuthnot said she could not be sure the video used in the case was taken by him. She also said, while it was "in colossal bad taste", she could not be certain the figures on the tower were not Mr Bussetti and his friends.

The chief magistrate added she was "appalled at the disclosure in this case" with the last-minute evidence helping to avoid "a potential miscarriage of justice". A second charge of causing footage of a "menacing character" to be uploaded on YouTube against Mr Bussetti had earlier been dismissed.