srchmeister - 10:54 pm on Jun 17, 2011 (gmt 0)
I had the same thought as you and tried various combinations and placements of the META tag. I even tried changing the charset to a non-existent value like 'blubble' and the problem went away every time.
The problem only occurs if the charset value is set to 'UTF-8' and the source file is actually encoded in UTF-8 without the BOM.
I will have to double-check if the web server (Tomcat 6) is set to use UTF-8 in the response header... I'm pretty sure it is but I will need to check.