PROTESTERS who superglued themselves to Barclays Bank desks in a demonstration against Nato and the arms trade were cleared of wrongdoing yesterday.

Three women and one man who set up camp in Newport during the Nato Summit were among protesters taking action in the Commercial Street branch on September 5 over the bank owning shares in an Israeli arms manufacturer.

Kelly Minio-Paluello, 33, from Victoria Road, Glasgow, Eleanor Keen, 49, from Steed Cottages, Kent, Deirdre Murphy, 60, from Brooklands Terrace, Swansea and Christopher Prince, 39, from Sycamore Close, Hounslow, London, stood trial at Newport Magistrate’s Court yesterday charged with aggravated trespass for failing to leave the bank as soon as possible after being given an order to do so.

The four were the last to leave of around 20 protesters who were singing and chanting ‘Free Free Palestine’, the court heard.

Some protesters lay on the floor covered in fake blood while others stacked protest literature in bank drawers and displays and the branch closed until police arrived.

But District Judge Martin Brown said that as Ms Keen and Ms Murphy were glued to the desk before being asked to leave by police it wasn’t possible for them to do so until the glue had been dissolved.

He also said there was doubt over whether the protesters had been ordered to leave or simply requested.

“In my opinion there was a sloppy approach to this by police, particularly as they have charged the wrong offence in the first place”, he said.

After the verdict, Ms Minio-Paluello highlighted the loss of children's lives in Gaza and said: “I’m angry and disgusted that they brought us to trial in the first place and angry and disgusted about Barclays complicity with Elbit Systems.

“Everyone should take responsibility and say ‘Not in my name’. It’s not about us getting off – it’s about the action.”

Assistant bank manager Sian Higgins was in charge at the bank when the protest started. She told the court: “Everyone was extremely shocked at first. I had one lady who was very upset and we had to put her in a private room because she was worried about her safety. The protesters were screaming and yelping, like no noise I’ve ever really heard.”

She said she first became aware there was a protest because of a loud bang, adding: “The colleague I was with actually said, ‘I think someone’s been shot’. I have had two members of staff who have had to have counselling.”

There were cheers from the public gallery as the verdict was read out.

Supporter Meryl Prescott, from Newport, said after the hearing: “What a total waste of money this trial was – on top of the millions spent on the Nato summit.”

Deirdre Murphy said: “It’s a fantastic result that shows you are still allowed to peacefully protest in this country. I would encourage others, if they feel strongly about something, to take direct action.”

During July and August 2014, at least 2,104 Palestinians were killed according to the UN as Israel carried out ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in the Gaza strip.

The Newport protest was part of a campaign aimed at persuading Barclays to pull money out of Elbit Systems Ltd, Israel's largest military company.

A spokesman for Barclays Bank said: “Barclays holds a very small number of shares in Elbit Systems Ltd on behalf of clients and to hedge exposure against customer facing transactions. Currently such holdings amount to less than 0.2 per cent of the total shares in that company. Holding shares in companies on behalf of clients, as well as maintaining appropriate hedging strategies, is normal practice for banks, but does not equate to an investment made by Barclays.”

The Nato summit was attended by world leaders including Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, and there was a large-scale security operation across Newport and Cardiff.