I had just finished liberating this billboard for the movie “Troy”, when I was confronted by three policemen. Coated in Gluey evidence, and armed with the tools of the guerrilla decorator, I had little choice but to surrender.
The policemen were amused and friendly, and not entirely sure what to charge me with. “Criminal Damage I suppose” said one to the other. In a vain attempt to get off, I attempted to explain to the subtle difference between vandalism and subvertising; how my intent was not to damage the billboard but to improve it.
“In Manchester they turn a blind eye to this sort of thing” I pleaded, “Why, the billboard’s quite possibly illegal anyway!”
But alas, I was loaded into a waiting police car and taken away.
In the interview, I pleaded guilty to a crime of conscience, and appealed to their sense of moral justice (raising awareness about a much greater crime in Iraq?) and also to their sense of poetry (when a crime is as creative as this is it not easier to forgive?)
A month later I returned to the police station, to be informed that the owners of the billboard ‘JC Deacaux’, wished to prosecute. I imagine that this is standard procedure.
As I have no previous convictions, (which apparently means I am of amiable character), the Home Office guidelines recommend that I recieve a “Caution”. This will stay on my criminal record for a year.
In conclusion - I was stupid and careless to be caught adjusting this billboard. I was far too close to a busy police station to get away with it, and I would highly recommend that other people are more careful than me..
But I do think that this experience serves as an interesting precedent and I would hope that potential bill board liberators who were previously unsure about the legal consequences of their actions now feel less intimidated.
Not that I am urging you to get out there and do it.