Jonnie Marbles appeals against pie jail sentence

The man jailed for throwing a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch launched an appeal yesterday after being jailed for six weeks.

Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, was imprisoned yesterday after he admitted assaulting the 80-year-old media tycoon as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on July 19.

The legal team representing May-Bowles, of Windsor, Berkshire, launched the appeal after he was sentenced at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, arguing that the punishment handed down by district judge Daphne Wickham was too severe, although she said he would only serve three weeks in jail.

Defence counsel Tim Greaves said the appeal would probably only be dealt with after part-time comedian May-Bowles, also known as Jonnie Marbles, had served his sentence.

He told the court: “Slapstick and throwing pies dates back to the 1900s as a recognised form of protest. 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.”

The prison sentence Wickham handed down to May-Bowles contrasts with the two-year conditional discharge she gave to campaigner Ron Davis who helped carry out a purple flour “condom bomb” attack on former prime minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons in 2004.

Fellow Fathers 4 Justice activist Guy Harrison, who hurled the glitter and flour-filled condoms at Blair, was fined £600 by a different district judge.

May-Bowles’ solicitor, Raj Chada, said May-Bowles had wanted his protest to voice “widespread revulsion” felt by the public over the allegations of phone hacking and police corruption.

The appearance by James and Rupert Murdoch before the Commons committee was a “farce”, and May-Bowles’ “despair and anger” at this led him to throw the foam pie at the 80-year-old, he added.

Yesterday the judge condemned his actions in interrupting the evidence Mr Murdoch was giving to the committee, which she said was “of huge importance” to many people.

He had attended the hearing “with only one intention, to disrupt them”, she said, adding that she took into account the fear of injury felt by Mr Murdoch, who could not have known what was in the pie.

Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham said May-Bowles smuggled the foam pie into the building hidden in an old shirt.

May-Bowles had admitted assault and causing harassment, alarm or distress at a hearing on Friday.

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