AN Irish Traveller will stage a protest at Glastonbury Festival against a new law he believes will “criminalise Travellers”. 

Martin Ward, of Gravesend, Kent, said he will speak on several stages at the festival to rally against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

The Government says the act “creates a new criminal offence of residing with a vehicle on land without permission” and will “strengthen the police’s power to tackle unauthorised encampments which cause damage, disruption, or distress”.

The new offence will carry a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500 (or both) and will come into force on June 28.

The act has been criticised by the Liberty human rights group which believes it “threatens to criminalise the entire way of life of nomadic Gypsy and Traveller communities”.

Mr Ward, 30, has called the act “a disgrace” and expressed concern for members of his family and community who are “on the roads with nowhere else to go”.

Somerset County Gazette: Martin Ward has called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 “a disgrace”. Martin Ward has called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 “a disgrace”.

He told the County Gazette: “It’s an entrapment law to criminalise Travellers – that’s exactly what it is.

“It’s got my blood boiling since the moment I heard about it because I never thought that law would pass in this country. Travellers and Gypsies have been part of England for hundreds of years.

“I’ve got a sister who is still travelling and is traumatised to think what’s going to happen to her, her children, her husband, and her home when this new law comes into place.”

Mr Ward will be joined by others from the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities at Worthy Farm.

He will meet members of the festival's management team before the five-day event starts on Wednesday, June 22 to plan their activities.

“I’ve been really upset for the last couple of days trying to digest this law and thinking, ‘This is coming’,” he added.

“We’re looking forward to taking to the streets and doing loads of protesting against it and, hopefully, turning the law over for the sake of our children, our sisters, our brothers, and our families on the roads with nowhere else to go.

“We want answers, and we need answers, 100 per cent.”

A government factsheet on the act says it “respects the rights of the Traveller community to follow a nomadic way of life in line with their cultural heritage”.

It adds: “Our aim is for settled and travelling communities to be able to live side-by-side harmoniously and we hope that the clear rules and boundaries which we are putting in place will facilitate that.”

Somerset County Gazette: Martin is an ex-TOWIE cast member and is currently working on a documentary about being gay in the Irish Traveller community.Martin is an ex-TOWIE cast member and is currently working on a documentary about being gay in the Irish Traveller community.

Mr Ward will also discuss his experiences as a gay Irish Traveller at Glastonbury.

He said: “I’ll be speaking about Travellers’ Pride as well to raise awareness. It’s a struggle in our community for girls and boys to come out and be gay.

“I have to help others within the Gypsy and Traveller community, and I just want them all to embrace who they are and not deny who they are for anybody.”

Mr Ward is related to Celebrity Big Brother winner Paddy Doherty and 2005 X Factor champion Shayne Ward. 

He is ex-cast member of reality series The Only Way Essex and is now working on a documentary with Firecracker Films about his experiences as a gay Irish Traveller.

He protested outside Jimmy Carr’s show in Cambridge earlier this year after the comedian’s comments about the Holocaust in his Netflix special, His Dark Material.

The 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown host was criticised for saying “nobody talks about the positives” in reference to “the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis”.