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The Agrexco Seven - Day Two

Falestine Hurriyah | 25.01.2006 09:09 | Social Struggles | London

Tuesday in court 4 at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, and the prosecution is still presenting its case. A clutch of cops testify and in the afternoon everyone gets comfortable for the premier of the 50 minute video of the action, shot be the cops. Line of the day is about 20 minutes into the vidoe when the operator is heard to say "I hope this thing is working Frank!"

Don't buy dem fruits
Don't buy dem fruits

First up on the stand in the morning was Chief Inspector Cumber, Silver for the "critical incident". He doesn't get off to a good start when he declares that his "Decision Log" is lost. He uses long words like unavalable and whereabouts unknown to try and disguise the fact that crucial evidence is missing.

Nonetheless, he assures the court that he made a statement from the incident log, and that he is happy that his statement is accurate - it turns out that it creates more confusion than certainty. Chief Inspector Cumber makes the startling claim that he "found a leaflet" after the last arrest which indicated that the action was "pre-planned" and that the group was "working together". This is a startling piece of deduction - not many cops would be able to ascertain that 10+ activists, with temporary fencing, concrete blocks and d-locks arriving at a remote industrial estate at 4.30 am , erecting and chaining themselves to temporary structures in the entrance and exit, thus halting all vehicualr traffic to and from a warehouse which is mentioned on their banners were acting as a group, would they.

What is particularly confusing about this is Chief Inspector Cumber was, along with all his grunts, handed copies of the action leaflet and spent most of the morning clutching a copy. Still, his approach was clear. He wanted the nice company in the smart premises (it must be legit, right?) to be able to go about distributing its fruit and vegetables which is "lawful activity"....... He wanted to 'facilitate' the rights of the protestors to protest peacefully, by getting them all to stand on a wind swpet pavement out of sight of everybody else. To this end, he tells the court, he used "peaceful but persuasive negotiation skills" ..... there is bemusement in the court - how were they persuasive? None of the protestors did anything he wanted.

Chief Inspector gives further demonstrations of his self-professed impartial policing.He accepted that the temporary structures were on Agrexco's land because general manager Amos Orr told him it was. Like Amos Orr, he too had never seen the Land Registry documents before entering the court - and furthermore, he would like someone from the Land Registry to explain the map to him before he believes it shows whet the team of defence barristers say it shows - he obviously feels that Israeli businessmen are more reliable sorces on uk legal issues than qualified barristers. He causes further bemusement by claiming that if the protestors had informed him that there were dodgy goods inside the warehouse he would have made further inquiries, when everyone there knows that the matter was continually raised and in fact he admits he was aware of the purpose of the action, because it is in paragraph 2 of his statement.

Chief Inspector spends a lot of time telling the court that he gave clear warnings and time limits and that no-one was in doubt as to what they were. Whilst he says that he entertained the idea of allowing the demonstrators to stay in situ until after the 2 minutes silence (the action took place on Armistice Day) he says that offer expired and everyone was aware of that. He is adamant that no-one could possibly have thought he was agreeing to it.

Enter witness number 2 - Seargeant Ayeliffe. Within minutes he tells the court that Chief Inspector Cumber did agree to allow the action to remain in situ until after the silence. Other cops confirm this as well. No doubt this will be revisited wwhen the arrest of the first defendant at 10.55 is explored further.

By the end of the day, the prosecutions case isn't looking to good. There is major doubt about whether the action even took place on land owned by Agrexco, the clear warnings required foir a Section 69 warning appear to have confused even his own officers, and it appears that at the time of the action Agrexco may not even have had a valid import/export license.

Today (Wednesday) the prosecution is due to finsih presenting its case, after which there will be an application to strike out. Sjould that application fail, the defence case will begin to present evidence that setllements are parties to war crimes and international crimes, and that trade with them is not lawful activity.

For background to the case see:

Falestine Hurriyah
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