On 26 March, over 150 activists were arrested for entering the Fortum & Mason shop in an action called by UKUncut to protest against the “many super rich individuals and profitable big businesses going out of their way to minimise their tax bills” whilst cuts to all of our public services were going ahead. Chief inspector Claire Clark described the protest as non-violent and “sensible” and gave the activists an assurance that they were not be be arrested. After some faffing, they protesters were led from the store and, ummm, all arrested. Clark has since confirmed that she was told by her commanding officers that she knew they would all be arrested. And she knew this at least 10 minutes before she told them they would not be.
Bindmans, a legal firm with a long history of support people engaged in civil liberty struggles, wrote to the CPS saying "It clearly brings the administration of justice into disrepute if an individual is not able to rely on the clear assurances of the police – and in this case a very high ranking officer – engaged in the policing of a peaceful protest". It would appear that the CPS agrees, to some extent, by announcing that it would not seek the prosecution of 109 of the activists as it was “not in the public interest.”
Thirty people alleged to have been in the protest will, at the time of writing, be prosecuted by the CPS. Thirteen have appeared in court once and pleaded not guilty. The other 17 are due to enter pleas later this month. In a remarkable statement, the prosecution has said that chief inspector Claire Clark telling the activists that they would not be arrested did "not amount to an assurance they would not be arrested". Reports that Clark is currently seeking work for News International are unconfirmed.
Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station
In April 2009, 114 activists were arrested in a £300,000 operation run by Nottingham police. It was the largest number of pre-emptive arrests ever in the UK. After all of the normal legal shenanigans, 26 people were taken to court for conspiracy charges. Twenty were found guilty after he jury dismissed their claim of lawful defence – that their action would have prevented a larger crime from taking place. The jury seem to made their decisions based on the prosecution argument that the protesters were meagrely seeking publicity.
The trial of the remaining six collapsed in January 2011 when it emerged that police infiltrator, Mark Stone / Kennedy had provided the police with taped recordings of the plans that demonstrated the protesters innocence. It appears that this evidence – available to both the police and the CPS – was not passed on to the defence in clear breech of the legal guidelines “to give lawyers for the accused any evidence that could assist their defence”.
This hiding of evidence that they didn't like, which was not known about during the trial of the first 26 activists, was presented to the court of appeal who said "It is clear that there was a non-disclosure of material which would have been supportive of the defence case advanced at trial.", and overturned the convictions.