UK Newswire Archive
19-01-2011 14:23Update from day #2 of the Court of Appeals of our four comrades in Thessaloniki, Greece. The day would be spent examining more police prosecution witnesses, including some policemen who had been involved in the arrest of Simon Chapman, and others who had arrested other demonstrators (not the Thessaloniki 4).
18th January Nottingham Crown Court [Day 17]
From the first trial the previous 18 of the 20 defendant had already been sentenced on the 10th January.
The remaining 2 had to appear at Court 5, Nottingham Crown Court today.
The story so far ..... At the conclusion of the trial on the 14th December 2010, all 20 defendants were found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass.
They were arrested in April 2009 during the biggest pre-emptive arrest in UK history. The 114 people were detained at Iona School, Sneinton, where they were involved in planning an operation to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station for a week. The facts were not disputed. Giving evidence, this was clearly there intention and that they were equipped to do it. The defence of necessity was employed in that they were acting to prevent a greater harm; death and serious injury to others as a direct consequence of climate changes bought about by the burning of fossil fuels, most notably coal.
His Honour Judge Teare had deferred sentencing until today [18 January 2011] for the remaining 2 defendants.
Miss Gerry for the prosecution said that these defendants did have a number of previous convictions for offences relating to social and environmental matters. She read out the previous for them that involved protests at Heathrow, Kingsnorth, Sizewell, Didcot, RAF Northwood and Downing Street.
She reminded the Judge she had asked for prosecution costs of £5,000 costs against each defendant. Further she applied for a deprivation order under:
Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 [sect 143]
Judge Teare turns to thoughts of sentencing. To start with, he said he was quite cross with Mr Edward Rees, the lead defence barrister [not present at this court], in that he had mislead the court to believe that a suspended sentence could not be given for a prison sentence of three months or less. He should have behaved better for a QC. This is the maximum penalty for this offence. It is in fact for sentences of less than six months that could be suspended! He said if he had realised this, a couple of the earlier defendants would have had suspended sentences. He has looked further into this, and if minded, he could revisit sentencing for those within 28 days, but he is not going to.
With regard to these defendants, Judge Teare says that each have had many previous appearances and he says I am now considering suspended sentences. Ms Elliot in mitigation says that if that is so, these two fall below the level of others given lesser sentences at the last date.
Turning to references, Ms Elliot says that both have glowing references from the Director of Greenpeace, both being staff members there. It was not however, a 'Greenpeace action'. Both have been very active in raising public awareness on issues around climate change.
Ms Elliot reminds the Judge of his comments on sentencing the other defendants:
"I have read a great deal about all of you since the trial concluded. There is not one of you who cannot provide glowing references from peers or professionals. And, if I may select, some of the adjectives that recur throughout they are these: honest, sincere, conscientious, intelligent, committed, dedicated and caring. You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form. I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration".
Sarah Elliot, compared the defendants behaviour and high principles unfavourably with police methods. She told the Judge that their honourable and decent motives perhaps might be contrasted with what we now know about the long-term deployment of undercover police officers, one of whom acted on the 'extreme boundary of legality', if not decency, if the reports of agitation and so on across Europe are to be believed. The deployment of that officer has been concealed from the defendants by the crown in these proceedings. Such evidence might have had an influence on the trial.
His Honour Judge Jonathan Teare, referring to the undercover police officer said that he is going to disappoint the media by making NO COMMENT on PC Mark Kennedy, other than to say that he played absolutely no part in the trial. He says I have no knowledge of him apart from the fact that he hired a vehicle as part of these events. All matters pertaining to his involvement are alleged and unproved at this stage. I guess a fair few of the journos present were hoping for a few more juicy titbits about him.
On sentencing, the Judge says he's not going to reiterate all of his comments from the last trial, other than that both are both clearly motivated and come with the highest references. As with a couple of others, I was considering giving you both suspended sentences in the light of your previous convictions, but as already said, Mr Rees had mislead me. It is thus unfair to treat you differently now. He gives community service orders to do unpaid work within 12 months one for 90 hours and the other 80 hours. Although they were both employed, because of their low income, there was no order on costs.
Returning to the deprivation order on the kit defence barrister Ms Elliot tried to argue that quite expensive climbing gear, a truck load of sleeping bags etc ... were a little outside of the normal articles involved in crime such as knives, guns, drugs, crowbar etc. Judge said that he was minded to grant a deprivation order, since the articles were bought for this crime. Defence counters asking that rather than confiscation and destruction, perhaps defendant might be allowed to sign a disclaimer and the articles might be given to a charity? Eventually, after several more exchanges, the judge asked both side to try to come to some agreement themselves on all the property included in both trials and those not charged, and to let him know, for 'rubber-stamping', by the 18th March.
She said the extensive list of personal items also including Kennedy's BlackBerry phone, complete with a secret police tracking device. She say this was mentioned in the reports in the Daily Mail. The Judge remarked that: "That is a newspaper which does not cross my table." Chuckle went round the courtroom :-)
Defendants and their solicitor had all voiced concerns on how little the Judge had been told about PC Kennedy's undercover work and his likely contribution to the evidence before the court.
One of the defendants, who is head of media for Greenpeace, said on the steps of Nottingham crown court that the only people who now faced jail over the Ratcliffe protest were police officers. He accused them of withholding a tape made by Kennedy which is now the subject of a disclosure application to the CPS.
He said: "Kennedy played no part in our trial because he did not come up in evidence. Those who knew that he was a police officer, and knew the significance of that explosive tape, did not tell us, and, now we know, significantly, did not tell the judge."
"Very serious allegations have been raised which throw into doubt the safety of our conviction, and there is possibly a miscarriage of justice. I don't think any of us, when we were arrested, would have thought that a possible scenario at the end of this would be that the only people who face jail sentences are police officers for suppressing evidence."
Speaking on the court steps after the trial:
Mike Schwarz Solicitor Statements on Trial & Kennedy - Nttm Crown Court [Video]
Tash Report PDF on the Trial Progress: Ratcliffe Crown Court Case Nov 2010 - Jan 2011
Earlier Indymedia daily coverage of the progress of this trial
with the daily links:
Ratcliffe Trial Day 16 – Return for Sentencing
Photographer - Media: One Eye on the Road. Nottingham. UK
Member of the National Union of Journalists [NUJ]
"It is not enough to curse the darkness.
It is also necessary to light a lamp!!"
19-01-2011 10:57Last week, a trial of six environmental campaigners at Nottingham Crown Court in England collapsed. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said they could not continue, as “new evidence” had come to light undermining their case.
19-01-2011 08:38how does one make heads roll on this topic?
does anyone have concrete positive advice?
slagging of other activists is not helping, maybe examples from the past or from other countries would help.
18-01-2011 20:22The next meeting of Bristol and Bath Rising Tide will take place on Mon 31st January, 7.30pm at Kebele, Robertson Rd
All welcome who want to take direct action against the root causes of climate change.
the 'police and social responsibility bill' trundles through parliament, filled with clauses clearly designed to rid parliament square of brian haw's decade long peace vigil, with precise legal constructions that overturn years of hard-fought arguments in the high court. but it will not be in place in time for the royal wedding, and cameron has made a pledge that parliament square will be free of protest by that date. so, yesterday, westminster officials served letters on protestors in parliament square, and the council released press statements claiming they were acting to clear the square this week.
brian himself is abroad receiving treatment for cancer, but his campaign has continued uninterrupted with the help of a handful of supporters. his peace camp consists of a few banners (restricted to 3 metres width by police under SOCPA legislation) and a small number of tents for supporters to stay overnight and to shelter from the elements.
maria gallestegui, who was for many years was a close confidante and supporter of brian's campaign, but who now runs a separate campaign along the pavement under the name 'peace strike', has received the same restrictions from police and has built two wooden boxes, each using up fully the area allowed under the same arbitrary police restrictions. she also has tents for supporters to stay.
since last summer, there was also a build up of other tents in the area, mostly used by homeless people and not clearly part of either authorised peace protest. it seemed that police were allowing these to remain, adding to the general "untidiness" of the area which many politicians have complained about. however, with bad weather and in the aftermath of the student protest, most of these have left.
despite various promises (from blatantly untrustworthy politicians) that SOCPA would be repealed, it is still officially in force, and indeed, the 'peace strike' protest is "authorised", while brian's protest is also 'de facto' authorised, even though he has never willingly complied with the legislation (enacted several years after his protest began!).
a new bill, 'the police and social responsibility bill' is currently in progress, and while repealing the parts of SOCPA relating to protest near parliament, it targets tents, sleeping bags, camping equipment, and loud hailers, making them all unlawful in parliament square, and thus making brian's 24-hour vigil impossible. the bill also tightens up where SOCPA failed, by explicitly allowing police to seize such objects, and allowing courts to create exclusion zones against named individuals. the relevant sections of the bill might as well be called "the removal of brian haw and his supporters" as it is so precise in its aims and in the scope of its powers.
however, the bill is still in consultation phase and will not be on the statute until at least the summer, so in the meantime, cameron made a promise to the house that the square will be clear in time for the royal wedding.
given the talk of an early mayday-style protest on the 29th april, fuelled by an angry population reeling from unnecessary and deeply ideological huge cuts while big business proceeds as normal, i think brian's camp will be the least of their worries on that day.
however, it looks like cameron's had words in boris's shell-likes, and a new initiative has been born to rid parliament of its permament voice of conscience outside.
yesterday, letters were served on the peace campaigns (apparently from westminster's orwellian-style 'head of legal and democratic services'), which give notice until friday 5pm to remove tents and other structures which 'unlawfully obstruct the highway'.
all parties are no doubt seeking legal advice, and the 'peace strike' have issued a public statement (printed below), but on first sight, the letter seems to be based on dubious legal grounds. for a start it alludes to a previous case back in 2002, when westminster tried to bring an obstruction of the highway case against brian haw, and failed to get an injunction in the high court after a ruling by mr justice gray. in the new letter, they say that the present circumstances are different, and they will be seeking an injunction if the protestors don't respond or comply.
the camps are being commanded to remove any "unlawful obstruction", but this is a very unclear order, especially given the fact that at least some of the structures are authorised by the police under SOCPA guidelines. so, it poses the question, can a structure be unlawful if it has been authorised by the police within existing laws?
perhaps dave and boris really are that stupid, but i imagine they have taken some pretty hefty legal advice before making this move, or perhaps they are just going to get an injunction served (possibly with the help of the usual brown envelope), use hired force to remove the camps, and only then fight it out in court and quite possibly lose later. if so, it is particularly sick timing to do so while brian haw is receiving cancer treatment abroad.
i suppose a concerted assault on the rights to protest must be part of a regime of intense public cuts and corporate theft, and this is just part of it. all the more reason for the people to rise up to force this corrupt and democratically illegitimate government out of office. roll on jan29, march 26, april 29 and more.
below is the statement from the 'peace strike':
STATEMENT AND OPEN LETTER FROM PEACESTRIKE AT PARLIAMENT SQUARE
Re: Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
THREAT OF EVICTION * HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 and HIGH COURT INJUNCTION *
Yesterday afternoon we received a letter from Westminster City Council stating that we are an unlawful obstruction on the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament. Also to make certain they achieve their objective, they are applying to the High Court for an injunction. They want a written reply by 12pm this Friday 21st, that all articles will be removed by 5pm.We have no information regarding when they would act at the moment, but presumably, any-time after that.....
Peacestrike has occupied this area for the past 2 years with tents and display structures. To date, we have received no official complaints regarding obstruction, hygiene issues, or complaints regarding abusive or disruptive behaviour. We take pride in the management of our on-going 24hr demonstration and accept we have a social responsibility in keeping our area in good order.
Peacestrike has four SOCPA ACT 2005 authorisations at Parliament Square and one in Whitehall. The threat to these rights should be through new legislation. The repeal of SOCPA ACT 2005 is in proposed legislation contained in the 'Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill'. This is now reached committee stage in the House of Commons. They ask people to submit objections, recommendations and concerns, to the committee by Feb....... It will not be in law until after the Royal wedding. This is due process and proper procedure, and allows time for people to organise a counter argument and open the discussion to all parties who may be affected by such legislation.
It seems that Westminster City Council and the Government wish to Pre-empt this law in order to rid themselves of demonstrations in Parliament Square right now. The problem is that in their haste, yet again, they are in great danger of 'Throwing the baby out with the bath water!'
We feel it necessary,due to the change in circumstances, to make this statement on behalf of the good people of this country who are unaware of the serious threat to our great history of protest. If we do not act now, 24hr overnight protest will be outlawed. The reasons the demonstration at Parliament Square have gone on for so long is directly connected to our on-going wars and illegal occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember, people, children, and soldiers are killed and seriously wounded every day!
We have a heavy burden of responsibility to get this right, as time is short. As yet, there has been no real opportunity for public opposition or debate. All the media has centred on the concerns of the Home Office, politicians, council, GLA, and the police. Do we really want our Government to send a message out to the world that protest is stifled and now timetabled and controlled. In emergencies people will naturally not want to go home, such as the Tamils in 2009. Emotions cannot, and never will be controlled by legislation, especially if the Government of the day is responsible for the atrocities. The people of the country always have a duty to express their concerns. We should always have the right to be angry and outraged. The Public Order Act 1980 has always been available to the police, if things get out of hand. Other countries do not share this great privilege,therefore because we can we must be the voice for the voiceless.
The Royal Family should be proud and protective of our heritage. We need to have a very frank and open discussion concerning this very important and historic right.
There are many examples of on-going demonstrations of similar standing throughout the world.
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, Australia, which has been there for over 39 years, since 1972 . It will continue, until the full rights of the Aboriginal People are restored.
White House Peace Camp. A lady called Concepcion Picciotto has been outside the White House for 30 years, since 1981
Faslane Peace Camp, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Established in 1984...... some 28 years ago!
Located by Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base.
Vancouver, Canada on-going protest, 4 years plus.
Recently won British Columbia Court of Appeal regarding Falun Gong on-going protest outside Chinese Consulate. Court over ruled Vancouver City Bylaws as unconstitutional, Oct 21st 2010.
Chinese Embassy......over 8 years....Portland Place London, 24hr, on-going....Falun Gong Practitioners. Started 5th June 2002.
Winnie the pig resided in a pen in Parliament Square, by the Churchill Statue, for 3 months between Feb – May 2000. There did not seem to be any objection at the time, indeed it would have been considered very British. Also, spent a day opposite Downing Street March 2008, and was visited by celebrities and MP's and Lord Tebbit. Maybe she was tolerated, as the pig could not talk back!
Democracy Village. Established in run up to election May1st, 2010 in Parliament Square, London. lasted 3 months. SOCPA ACT 2005 was never used.
Royalty and Politicians have to live in the real world where protest is essential to the Democratic process. We do not live in a sanitised country or world,nor would we want to. As long as protest is reasonable and peaceful, we feel we have every right to keep going....
We therefore invite Royalty, Politicians,Police, Council Officials, GLA, Journalists, Lawyers and Campaigners to a meeting in the House of Commons. We are trying to get a committee room made available as soon as possible. We are confident we can come to an amicable agreement to suit all parties concerned.
Without discussion there is no way forward.
If dialogue fails,or is just ignored, then Peacestrike intends to stand firm at Parliament regardless of the consequences.
Parliament Square 0741 3036 769
Emails will be sent to parties concerned.
18-01-2011 15:53Last night students determined to remain in occupation and create an area for free and constructive debate, where removed by excessive force by university security assist by the police.
I’m proud to say the student involved, remained peaceful in spite of personal injuries and very distressing scenes.
This report is compiled by testimonies of a UCU representative present and three students who are pressing charges of assault but, wish to remain unnamed for now.
During the period 18:30-19:00 students were removed from the maths-physics bridge, where on their first day back at university they had immediately re-occupied the university.
18-01-2011 13:36If you want to become a contributor or have an article to publish on an alternative collective blog, please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you working on an intelligent response to climate, energy or economic uncertainty? A community land, money or media project perhaps? Or any other imaginative initiative for a radically better world (hat tip toour friends at The Hub network of coworking spaces for that phrase). Then we want to meet you! Come and keep us company in this amazing space!
07 February · 12:00 – 14:00
Queen’s Square, Bristol
Say NO to legal aid cuts in the South West
Join us on the 7th Feb outside the Legal Services Comission (LSC) offices in Queens Square, Bristol to demonstrate against the govt proposals to limit access to justice to the wealthy.