Pair accused over Sikh temple protest deny targeting mixed faith wedding

Two protesters who were among 55 men arrested at a Sikh temple have denied that the demonstration was aimed at a mixed faith wedding.

Brothers Gursharan Singh and Kulvinder Bir Singh deny committing religiously aggravated offences at a gurdwara in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, by grabbing an official's tie and removing a sign.

In evidence to Birmingham Crown Court, the defendants, from Coventry, denied wrongdoing and claimed to have been protesting on September 11 2016 about alleged misuse of funds and "corruption" at the temple.

Self-employed IT worker Gursharan Singh, 34, told the court he was sworn at inside the temple and had tried to place his hand on the official's shoulder to warn him about his bad language.

Temple stand-off
Temple stand-off

Denying assault, the defendant said claims that he deliberately pulled the official's tie were "just not true".

Kulvinder Bir Singh, 38, who has worked as a pharmacist, said he caused no damage to signs at the temple and had no idea that an inter-faith marriage was due be held.

In closing speeches to the jury, counsel for the defendants said there was no evidence the protesters knew the wedding was taking place.

Defence barrister Sunit Sandhu, addressing jurors on behalf of Gursharan Singh, said: "He calmed the situation down, which was inflamed (by the official) using swear words."

Kulvinder Bir Singh's lawyer, Talbir Singh, described the charge against him as "the largest hammer you will ever see to crack the smallest nut".

"You may think he was motivated by a love for his faith," he told the jury. "There is no evidence to demonstrate that this was motivated, even in part, by hostility towards a religious group."