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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Carlisle judge has defendant arrested - in court

A judge ordered a man to be arrested in court – after he refused to say who he was.

Stephen Welch, 51, of Maryport Road, Dearham, was arrested and led from Carlisle Crown Court Number Three by a police officer after repeatedly ignoring requests from Judge Paul Batty QC to identify himself.

Welch insisted that he was in court as “an agent”. He did not stand in the dock – as is usual for defendants – but instead stood in the body of the court, normally reserved for lawyers.

Judge Batty told the defendant: “You have no right to be in the well of the court addressing me, unless you are a qualified lawyer.”

After he was removed from the court – protesting that nobody had the right to arrest him under EU law – the judge took evidence from fire service watch manager Cliff Harding, who confirmed that the man arrested was indeed Welch.

At an earlier hearing, the defendant had claimed to be a “freeman of the land” – an obscure group whose members believe they do not have to abide by laws imposed by the government.

He then told Judge Batty that laws he was said to have broken did not apply to him.

Welch is currently accused of intentionally obstructing a fire safety officer who was trying to conduct an inspection at the Evolution Centre, the address of which was not given in open court.

The judge ruled that the case would be decided by a five-day trial at Carlisle Crown Court starting on October 20. There will be a plea and case management hearing on May 19.

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