Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/690/13003

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 October 2011

Not guilty: Jury rejects the politically motivated charge of 'conspiracy'

A Socialist Party member

Courtesy of British Transport Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, nine people were recently given an unwanted insight into the British justice system and the frontline of political policing.

Along with 15 others, they were arrested for taking part in a protest against a neo-Nazi gig in South London in 2009. Kept on bail until they thought they'd been forgotten, they were charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

So many were charged that they couldn't all fit into one court room and were split into two trials. The trial of the nine eventually started two and a half years after the first trial had begun.

Conspiracy is a very useful offence for prosecutors. A conspiracy is where two or more people agree to commit an offence. However, as the chief prosecutor in the trial explained, no actual evidence of an agreement has to be produced for a successful conviction. All they have to do is make inferences from behaviour that show the accused must have agreed to a plan and been part of a conspiracy.

Three-week trial

During a gruelling three-week trial this is actually what they tried to do. No evidence was offered that any of them had taken part in any violence. Instead the jury were shown lengthy CCTV footage and asked to make guesses about what they were doing, thinking and saying at certain points.

This would have been laughable if it wasn't so serious. At one point the prosecutor seriously stated that because one of the accused was seen shrugging his shoulders on the CCTV, that must mean he was asking for orders!

The strangest part was how theatrical the court was. Not only do barristers continue to dress up in costumes complete with wigs but the cross-examinations of witnesses and defendants involved dramatic pauses, long soliloquies, barristers throwing their hands up in the air, gasping with pretend astonishment and fuming with pretend outrage.

There was absolutely no evidence of any plan so the prosecution relied on daft assertions, like anyone wearing a normal baseball cap is trying to hide their identity, and on outrageous political attacks. People who hold socialist views were called old-fashioned extremists who were responsible for the Great Famine in China!

At best, the prosecution had evidence that two people were involved in a fight with neo-Nazis on the day yet they attempted to prosecute 23 people and found the resources to do so. This was a clear cut case of a politically motivated prosecution attempting to criminalise political activism.

'Keep up the good work'

Thankfully, after a three-week trial at a cost running into the millions, a jury of 12 ordinary people unanimously acquitted the nine after deliberating for less than an hour. Incredibly, the jury even told them to keep up the good work!

However at a similar, earlier trial seven people were convicted of being part of a conspiracy so it may be deployed again in the future. It forms part of wider attempts by the government to criminalise political activity, erode hard-won democratic rights and activists and trade unionists should be aware of it.

As the cuts begin to bite, it is likely that the use of conspiracy charges to round up large groups of activists will be an important tool in the box of dirty tricks to undermine opposition to the government's plans.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 19 October 2011:


Socialist Party news and analysis

15 October: day of intercontinental resistance

Scandal reveals corrupt influence of big business on government

The Hardest Hit protests

Rocketing rents leave tenants facing eviction

Fast news


Socialism 2011

Come to Socialism 2011


What we think

Mass movement needed to save our NHS


Socialist Party workplace news

Support Remploy workers

Construction electricians march on Blackfriars

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

We are the 99% - Fighting for our future

Anti-union, low paying, bullying bosses

Birmingham youth service ravaged by cuts


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Not guilty: Jury rejects the politically motivated charge of 'conspiracy'

Dale Farm - occupiers defiant

More London trade unionists support call for anti-cuts candidates


International socialist news and analysis

Greek workers strike back


Socialist Party review

Reclaim the Game!


Socialist history

Hunger marches - When the unemployed fought back


 

Facebook   Twitter



Home   |   The Socialist 19 October 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Bookshop






Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter



Related links:

Democratic rights:

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: The battle for democratic rights in Hong Kong

triangleDemocratic rights attack under 'fighting terror' guise

triangleCon-Dems and Labour fast-track 'snoopers charter'

triangleEnding MPs' expenses scandal requires socialist change

triangleAppeal from SPOT - Solidarity with People of Turkey

Conspiracy:

triangleBlacklist Support Group lobbying political parties

triangleCullum McAlpine arrested over blacklisting

triangleElectrician wins his case

Jury:

triangleCoulson conviction: Cameron should go!

triangleKazakhstan: Vadim Kuramshin faces 12-year jail sentence after appeal denied

triangleVadim Kuramshin faces 14 years in special detention!

Trial:

triangleCoulson faces prosecution over Tommy Sheridan

triangleCoulson conviction: Cameron must resign!

Policing:

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

21/10/14

Russell Brand

Russell Brand strikes a chord

20/10/14

Liverpool

Kevin Maguire's mistaken comparison

20/10/14

Doncaster

Care UK strikers lobby Miliband for public support

20/10/14

TUC

TUC 'Britain needs a pay rise' demo

20/10/14

London

St Mungo's Broadway strikers stage 19 pickets

20/10/14

Southampton

"No Raise - No Rays!" - say radiographers

20/10/14

Recycling

Sheffield green workers' unofficial walkout

17/10/14

Black

Black History Month - London socialist meetings

16/10/14

Jobs

WEA tutors' victory

16/10/14

POA

POA hospital workers join public sector strike wave

15/10/14

Glasgow

'Political awakening' continues in Scotland

15/10/14

Doncaster

Care UK workers mark 81st strike day

15/10/14

The Socialist

Subscribe to the Socialist!

15/10/14

Socialist Party

Help us fund the fightback

15/10/14

Socialist Party

We need YOU to join the Socialists!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

triangle20 Oct Care UK strikers lobby Miliband for public support

TUC demo, 18.10.14, photo by JB

triangle20 Oct TUC 'Britain needs a pay rise' demo

triangle20 Oct 'No Raise - No Rays!' - say radiographers

triangle20 Oct St Mungo's Broadway strikers fighting for decent pay and conditions

triangle16 Oct POA hospital workers join public sector strike wave

triangle15 Oct Obama's strategy to beat IS lies in tatters

Kshama Sawant, photo Kevin Allen

triangle15 Oct Come to Socialism 2014

More ...

triangle22 Oct Hackney & Islington Socialist Party: How can the battle against the pay freeze be won?

triangle22 Oct Peterborough & Huntingdonshire Socialist Party: The approach of socialists to the national question

triangle22 Oct Leicester Socialist Party: A one-day general strike - Defeat the cuts!

triangle22 Oct Mansfield Socialist Party: Fight low pay! Break the pay freeze!

More ...

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Find us on Facebook

Archive

Categories

1-9 

1-9 


Archives:

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice