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RIP Pauline Campbell 1948-2008

IMCista | 18.05.2008 15:28 | Repression | Social Struggles

It is with great sadness that Indymedia UK learnt of the death of Pauline Campbell, a tireless campaigner against deaths in custody

Audio of Pauline Cambell leading demonstration outside Holloway women's prison on 16th of Jan 2008 in memory of Jamie Pearce.

Links: Pauline Campbell 1948-2008 | Prisons campaigner Pauline Campbell found dead beside daughter's grave | The 4WardEver Campaign UK remembrance page



Article by Pauline

16.05.2008 14:11

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters are devastated at the news of Pauline’s deaths. Posted below is an article due to be published in our paper next week, which of course we will still publish but which we are sharing with everyone now. Pauline wrote this just a few days ago and I have put her accompanying email with the article. She had written regularly for FRFI for the past four years and we salute her amazing contribution to the struggle against Britain’s oppressive and brutal prison system.

From: Pauline B Campbell [mailto:]
Sent: 10 May 2008 21:02
To: Nicki
Subject: Article for FRFI

Here it is - I'll call it an article (557 words) as it's too long for a letter. I know you don't need it just yet, but I decided to do it today, as I'm in a writing mood. Please let me know what you think - when you're ready.

Few suggestions ... if it's too long, just let me know, and tell me what word count to aim for, and I can and will reduce it. If you want something longer [which I think is unlikely], please also let me know.

Irrespective of word count, if you want an increased or reduced emphasis in one or more places, don't hesitate to say. You can sign me off as:

Pauline Campbell
Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died on 'suicide watch' in Styal Prison's segregation unit, 2003

if that's all right with you.

Look forward to hearing from you in due course. Article is below [emboldened].

Regards, Pauline

My letter published in FRFI No. 202, April/May 2008 ("Protest against prison deaths") urged readers to write to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Crewe, Cheshire, to question how the prosecution against me could possibly be in the public interest.

Following written representations to both the CPS and the Attorney General, I can report that the charge against me has been dropped, and my three-day criminal trial scheduled for July 2008 has been cancelled. I am aware that FRFI readers have written letters to protest against this senseless prosecution, and I should like to place on record my thanks to those who have put pen to paper on my behalf.

This prosecution should never have reached court in the first place. Both the CPS and the court were made aware that I am a bereaved mother, and that my only child had died at the hands of the State. This particular attempt to criminalise and punish me was especially cruel, as I was arrested outside Styal Prison, the jail responsible for my daughter's death in 2003. Lisa Marley, a young mother held on remand at Styal, died on 23 January 2008, and I was arrested and charged with obstructing the highway - a charge which I denied - at the demonstration to protest against her death.

Aside from the vindictive nature of this prosecution, the case has raised a number of issues and, for reasons of openness and transparency, it is important to highlight this iniquity.

All along, the Crown had argued that the case was in the public interest. At each of my three court appearances, and in a three-page letter to the CPS in March 2008, I argued to the contrary, and challenged their assertion that the case had passed the public interest test. After three months they caved in, but it is unclear to me why it took so long for them to see the light.

The case also highlights difficulties defendants face when applying for legal aid. My application for legal aid had been refused, apparently on the grounds that it had not met the criteria necessary to meet the 'interests of justice' test. At each hearing, I had to attend court without a solicitor, which was enormously stressful. I am not a lawyer, and have had no legal training. It is an affront to the principle of access to justice that anyone should have to stand criminal trial, and attend pre-trial reviews, without legal representation. Yet whenever I attended court, the Crown was represented by a lawyer. I fail to understand how a defendant in a criminal trial can adequately represent themselves. It defies common sense. How can justice be achieved when there is clear inequality of arms?

There is a growing loss of confidence in our criminal justice system, which is hardly surprising. When laid bare, the system is frequently revealed as unjust and unfair, and it is crucial that people speak out against this injustice.

But bringing pressure to bear on the authorities can and does work, as my case illustrates. The idiom 'the pen is mightier than the sword' tells us that words and communication are more powerful than wars and fighting. When faced with a prosecution, and an attempt to criminalise me, I will always fight my corner with strong words, and an even stronger determination to ensure that justice prevails.


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
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A great loss

16.05.2008 16:40

Like all those who knew her, I feel the loss keenly.

I first met and photographed Pauline Campbell in 2003, when she talked movingly about the death of her daughter, bringing tears to my eyes.

Since then I photographed her on a number of occasions, but got to know her rather better since standing for several hours outside Holloway with her this January.

This Monday she sent me the pdfs of a feature on her written by Ciara Leeming just published in Big Issue North (12 May) which included one of my pictures of her being assualted by police. She was very pleased with the feature (though as usual pointed out a couple of errors) and that my picture had been used again. It was one of many personal e-mails she had sent me - along with the regular mailings about her campaign.

But she also gave me the news of yet another death at Styal last Thursday, the 3rd this year, which, from the information she had she thought might end up being re-classified as self-inflicted.

Some of my pictures of her have already been re-posted on Indymedia. You can find more and read my story from Holloway at


Peter Marshall
mail e-mail:
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Inquest Statement On The Death Of Pauline Campbell

16.05.2008 19:51

The staff team at INQUEST are deeply saddened by the news of Pauline Campbell’s
untimely death.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, said:

Having worked closely with Pauline since her daughter Sarah’s death in 2003 we
were acutely aware of the impact the investigation and inquest had on her as she
uncovered the horrendous circumstances in which Sarah died in HMP Styal.

Borne out of her experience, Pauline became a formidable campaigner committed to
exposing the injustices and inhumanity of the treatment of women in prison.

Her death should remind everyone not just about the many unnecessary and
preventable deaths of women in prison but also of the impact on the families they
leave behind.

Pauline was committed not just to campaigning but also to helping INQUEST’s work in
supporting bereaved families. Most recently she contributed her thoughts about her
experiences following Sarah’s death for our report Dying on the Inside: Examining Women’s
Deaths in Prison.

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Do not allow yourselves to be intimidated by the State

16.05.2008 21:56

On the 11th September 2006, in response to the long campaign in Brighton against the EDO arms factory, which successfully defied repeated arrests and attempts to prevent their protests, she wrote:

Sorry I can't join you, but keep up the good work, and do not allow yourselves to be intimidated by the State.

Pauline Campbell
[Mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the 'care' of HMP Styal, 2003]


Audio report of Holloway demonstration led by Pauline Campbell

18.05.2008 16:59

Pauline was an amazing woman,who supported and encouraged everyone who worked alongside her in support of women's deaths in custody.
when she called protests she welcomed everyone, introducing participants to each other, creating a warm atmosphere of united support.
She always e mailed anyone that covered her campaign, thanking them for their contribution.

It was a terrible shock to hear of her tragic death, and she will be missed.

Audio of Pauline Campbell leading demonstration in memory of Jamie Pearce.

Devlish May
mail e-mail:

Pauline's last interview

19.05.2008 17:39

In case anyone wants to read the Big Issue in the North interview mentioned above - for which we met Pauline just 2 weeks ago - you can do so here (just click the jpegs to read):

The only correction that she made was that charges had been dropped against her by the CPS four times and not five. The fifth occasion went to trial but she was acquitted when the judge threw the case out.
You can read her thoughts on this article here:

ciara leeming
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