How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today


8:22 pm - November 14th 2011

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contribution by Edd Bauer

Today my trial for a two hour UKuncut sit-in at Fortnum & Mason ended far faster than anyone estimated. The trial was scheduled to end on the November 30th, however a thin prosecution case was over in just 2 and half days.

Among the officers taking the stand was Inspector Clark – the chief police officer at the scene whom had been at the sit-in in Fortnum and Mason for the duration. She confirmed her view that we were all “sensible and well behaved”.

Clark was the officer filmed telling protestors that they would not be arrested before the systematic arrest of everyone taking part in the sit-in.

What became painfully apparent today was the arbitrary nature of the arrests on March 26th.

In his evidence Chief Inspector Dean admitted that he was under instruction to use his discretion “to let peaceful protestors go”, however decided to ‘mass arrest’ 145 people on site.

This blanket arrest has caused great stress and worry not just for the arrestees but for many family members and friends. Most arrestees where further held in solitary for 24 hours and many were denied access to a lawyer. 13 of my friends from Birmingham were in the store with me and it was particularly hard on some.

Now that senior police officer admit the arrestees where “sensible and well behaved”, it should be asked what the aim of the major police operation on March 26th was.

Under increasing scrutiny the operation looks increasing aimed stifling political protestors and perhaps even an intelligence gathering exercise.

The prosecution have now finished giving their evidence and ultimately their argument is that we took part in a protest. They are not attributing any ‘act’ to the defendants except for ‘not withdrawing’.

We don’t think we have a “case to answer” and so after making the point that this does not amount to any crime, have closed our case too.

The Judge has called recess until Wednesday; when the court will reconvene and we expect closing statements from both the prosecution and the defence for a verdict is reached.

Thanks for all the solidarity we have received so far. All the defendants in the current case want to express their solidarity to everyone fighting against cuts and all facing trial for protesting. Good luck everyone standing up and taking action in coming weeks on both the 23rd of November to defend education and on 30th of November in the largest strike in a generation.

—-
Cross-posted from Bright Green Scotland

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Reader comments


Well done for putting up with this shit, I have great admiration for all you guys staying strong, and for those who were released pre-trial. If its any consolation its not been in vain, not only did you highlight tax avoidance but you also showed how deceitful the police are in trying to criminalise protest. They won’t win, now or in the long term. Solidarity.

“ultimately their argument is that we took part in a protest”

FWIW, I don’t think what you guys did amounts to criminality, but isn’t the argument about the nature of the protest, not just any old protest?

You are being prosecuted for aggravated trespass?

“They are not attributing any ‘act’ to the defendants except for ‘not withdrawing’.”

That seems unfair to say the least if it’s common ground that the police didn’t let you leave.

Should anyone be allowed to ‘occupy’ a shop (or any other place they see fit) under their right to protest and then not be arrested, or at least removed?

@3 Depends really doesn’t it. If political protest was to be limited by law to public property only, then the simplist method to ban protest wholesale would be to transfer all public areas to some sort of contrived private ownership.

5. Ciaran Osborne

@3

I don’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to occupy a shop – particularly one that has indulged in serious and repeated tax avoidance.

Ciaran,

I don’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to occupy a shop – particularly one that has indulged in serious and repeated tax avoidance.

If a group believed that you, Ciaran, had done something wrong, do you think they should be allowed to ‘occupy’ your business or home? Do you think there should be limits on the nature of this occupation and the length of time they may occupy your business or home?

7. Ciaran Osborne

@6

I think people should have the right to occupy any business they believe has done something wrong. I don’t believe the same applies to homes.

Under increasing scrutiny the operation looks increasing aimed stifling political protestors and perhaps even an intelligence gathering exercise.

Fishing in an empty lake there…

Ciaran,

I think people should have the right to occupy any business they believe has done something wrong.

What sort of timespan do you think they should be free to do so? And what about the nature of the occupation? By the sound of it, the F&M protesters didn’t seem to cause much if any disruption, IIRC they just handed out leaflets and shouted a bit, but other protesters (TopShop springs to mind) have obstructed doorways, preventing entry and exit, and disrupted the running of the business.

10. Robin Levett

@Ciaran Osborne #7:

I think people should have the right to occupy any business they believe has done something wrong.

No limits? No right for the business to remove them?

I don’t believe the same applies to homes.

Why not? If your business is blogging, and you do that from your basement, why should someone who believes that you’ve misrepresented their position not be fully entitled to occupy those premises?

11. Robin Levett

@Ciaran Osborne #5:

I don’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to occupy a shop – particularly one that has indulged in serious and repeated tax avoidance.

You seem to know something the rest of us don’t. As I understood the story, F&M’s owners have a 54% stake in ABF, and ABF allegedly indulged in tax avoidance. Isn’t that correct?

Police state UK.

I went on some demos, but after seeing the level of police intimidation and brutality I gave up. It was sickening. If the politicians and top police brass think they are suppressing dissent, they are absolutely correct. For now.

The greater the injustice, the greater the backlash.

14. Robin Levett

@ukliberty #13:

Not surprising; having failed in their submission of “no case to answer”, it was hardly sensible not to call evidence in their defence. While it’s possible that they could have been acquitted, that would only be if the DJ didn’t believe the prosecution evidence on the elements of the offence. It’s a lot easier to ask a judge to “prefer X’s evidence to Y’s”, than to “disbelieve Y”; but to do that, you have to put X into the witness box.

If the article, and the piece you linked, reflect the way the defence was conducted, then this conviction is even less surprising. All courts would prefer the argument “The behaviour which I admit to engaging in was not the offence charged” to “The behaviour which I admit to engaging in should not be an offence”.

15. Leon Wolfson

And the police get their card to lie in any situation for any reason confirmed. If a policeman speaks to you in ANY situation, speed-dial your lawyer, folks.

If a policeman speaks to you in ANY situation, speed-dial your lawyer, folks.

If you have a lawyer on speed-dial, I suspect you may have greater problems anyway.

17. Leon Wolfson

@16 – If you don’t, you’re hopelessly naive.

18. Robin Levett

@Leon Wolfson #15:

And the police get their card to lie in any situation for any reason confirmed

You’ve lost me…cite and relevance, please.

17 – I’d hazard a guess that the number of people in the UK who have a criminal solicitor on speed dial (or indeed, have ever met or contacted a criminal solicitor) is statistically insignificant. I actually am a lawyer, and I don’t know any.

Looking on Twitter and news.google etc it again surprises me how many people are shocked that someone who disrupts a lawful business risks arrest and prosecution. They genuinely seem to believe they should be totally free to do it.

I said sometime ago on LC that UK Uncut ought to warn people that arrests and prosecutions for aggravated trespass are risks of participating in the occupations they are encouraging. To date I do not think there are any such warnings. Regardless of their opinion of the law and the police, surely it’s their ‘duty’ to warn participants about the risks?

http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23fm145

21. Leon Wolfson

@19- Says someone from a smug majority. No, I have a clean criminal record and intend to KEEP it that way.

@18 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/28/cuts-protest-uk-uncut-fortnum

So – If you trust the word of a policeman, you’re mentally ill.

22. Robin Levett

@Leon Wolfson #21:

You misunderstand; I know the UKUncut protestors claim to have been lied to by police (although why they don’t make the same complaint about their leaders who told them that F&M was a tax-dodging company, I don’t know). I wanted a cite for this claim:

And the police get their card to lie in any situation for any reason confirmed


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Scott Thompson

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  2. Michael Atkinson

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  3. Andrew

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  4. Tom Bolger

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  5. Joe Macare

    Remarkably similarities across pond. MT @libcon: How the farcical trial against @UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/z70o1f3L

  6. Phil Tutty

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  7. Pete

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  8. Chris Tindall

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  9. Louise Mycroft

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  10. Sara Teresa

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  11. Juan Voet

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/pSgMZwOo

  12. Liam Connell

    “@libcon: How the trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today http://t.co/cI7tIqhf” how much did this farce cost public purse?

  13. Keith Fyans

    _"[Due to] a thin prosecution case [the trial] was over in just 2 and half days."_ http://t.co/REkxq26m

  14. Alan Moore

    How the farcical trial against UKuncut / F&M activists ended today | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/tOLI61Kd via @libcon





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