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Muswell Hill artist sticks to his gums, despite police attention

PUBLISHED: 15:54 28 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:54 07 September 2010

Ben Wilson works his magic on the chewing gum. Picture by Bridget Jones

Ben Wilson works his magic on the chewing gum. Picture by Bridget Jones

Police are still making life difficult for chewing gum artist Ben Wilson, despite having his case thrown out of court. After having his original charge for criminal damage thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service in December

Police are still making life difficult for chewing gum artist Ben Wilson, despite having his case thrown out of court.

After having his original charge for criminal damage thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service in December, he is still being occasionally stopped by police in Muswell Hill while leaving his colourful drawings on pieces of discarded chewing gum on the pavements.

"You think you're safe and then this happens," said Mr Wilson, 44, wearing his trademark luminous jacket splattered in technicolour paint. It seems totally random."

Mr Wilson, from Colney Hatch Lane, Muswell Hill, was stopped by police for criminal damage in late 2007: "They pulled me onto the ground and demanded my camera. There's so much bureaucracy stifling creativity. But they've still got my DNA on their database. It contravenes human rights.

"People try to stop those who find ways to be spontaneous in their local environment. We can make a better world. Hopefully we can create some diversity and interaction.

"The high street is being de-personalised, with all the local shops moving out. It's nice to leave your personal message."

And his projects at the moment? "I'm doing a commission for a Brummie builder right now!" he says, laughing.

The father-of-three's diminutive daubings have made him the talk of Muswell Hill - and immune to prosecution - as he is technically only painting on rubbish, not on the pavement, which would make him liable for criminal damage.

Mr Wilson estimates that he has had 500 to 600 encounters with police since embarking on his bubblegum brushworks. Some have been amicable, others less so.

His arrest in late 2007 led to police charging him with obstructing them in the line of duty - along with the original criminal damage offence - charges which were both subsequently dropped.

A spokeswoman for the police said "Any person causing an obstruction will be asked by officers to move on in order to allow pedestrians to safely use the pavement.

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