Flag protester: Queen didn't object

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012
Bridge protestors
GRAHAME COX

LOUD AND CLEAR: The group of Harbour Bridge protesters outside North Shore District Court.

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A man involved in an attempt to fly a Maori sovereignty flag on the Harbour Bridge has challenged his convictions on the grounds the court had no jurisdiction to punish him and the Queen hadn't turned up, or objected to his appeal.

On July 18 last year Malcolm Daniel France was part of a group of eight who attempted to raise the flag on the bridge in a protest against deep sea oil drilling off the East Coast.
 
France dropped seven of the protesters on the bridge about 8.30am. The group, consisting of five men and two women, smashed a lock on the gate to access the top of the bridge where they unfurled the flag and waved a placard. Police arrested them about 20 minutes later and arrested France nearby at Westhaven Marina.
 
France was charged with wilful damage and being found in an enclosed area without reasonable excuse. He was sentenced to 40 hours community work, on one of the charges, and ordered to come up for sentence if called upon in the next 12 months on the other. 

He first appealed to the High Court, but when that was rejected he sought leave to the Court of Appeal to challenge that ruling.

He argued the court had no jurisdiction to sentence him as they were not "in lawful possession of the seal of New Zealand" and because the Queen had not appeared at his appeal - despite being requested to - nor had she objected to it.

"Her Majesty did not appear at my proceedings, notwithstanding that I had sent to her address at Buckingham Palace the application for my said appeal hearing, she clearly not wishing to oppose that application; then I was enabled, and should have been granted such, that in her absence, judgement was able to be said entered and granted in my favour," France told the court.
 
The Court of Appeal dismissed France's appeal saying the grounds he had raised had been previously considered by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal who determined they were "without merit".

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