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:

triangleHonduras: Day of the endangered lawyer

triangleVenezuela elections

triangleUS: #blacklivesmatter movement challenges racism

triangleJeremy Corbyn comes to Leeds university

triangleSyria: Western governments' interventionist strategy in tatters

Conspiracy:

triangleThe Marikana report - a whitewash

triangleTheatre Review: United We Stand

triangleBlacklist Support Group lobbying political parties

triangleCullum McAlpine arrested over blacklisting

Jury:

triangleUprising against police violence in the US

triangleCoulson conviction: Cameron should go!

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

Trial:

triangleQuiz of the year

triangleNapo at a crossroads

Policing:

trianglePolitical policing: Met spy targeted socialists

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

11/2/16

Doctors

Doctors fight contract imposition - updated leaflet

11/2/16

South Wales

Public meetings show readiness of workers to fight back

10/2/16

Doctors

Doctors' strike 10th February - photos and reports

10/2/16

Solidarity

Demo in solidarity with Kurdish people: 6th March

10/2/16

Union

Workplace news in brief

10/2/16

Pay

Continued action in crane drivers' pay dispute

10/2/16

Tesco

Cuts to premiums mean no 'rise' in store for Tesco workers

10/2/16

Leicester

Leicester taxi dispute: Labour's rank hypocrisy

10/2/16

Academies

Big victory at Small Heath School against academy attack

10/2/16

Leeds

Leeds meeting expresses Corbyn and McDonnell's contradictions

10/2/16

Portsmouth

Portsmouth: support for anti-austerity stand

10/2/16

South London

South London: Library workers strike to save services

10/2/16

Redditch

NHS campaign gains support

10/2/16

Yorkshire

Anger against plans to close Bradford libraries

10/2/16

Torbay

Torbay: "A tale of two towns"

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

triangle11 Feb Public meetings show readiness of workers to fight back

triangle10 Feb Lack of strategy - and exclusions - threaten Momentum

triangle10 Feb Doctors' strike 10th February - photos and reports

triangle10 Feb No-cuts strategy needed to save 25,000 council jobs

triangle10 Feb South London: Library workers strike to save services

triangle10 Feb Cameron's EU renegotiation charade

triangle9 Feb Labour right wing blocks call to debate budget cuts

More ...

triangle13 Feb Socialist Students conference

triangle13 Feb Barking & Dagenham Socialist Party: The Matchgirls' strike and the birth of general trade unions

triangle15 Feb Leeds Socialist Party: Sanders, Trump, and the US elections

triangle16 Feb Plymouth Socialist Party: Democratic Centralism

More ...

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Find us on Facebook

Archive

Categories

1-9 

1-9 


Archives:

February 2016

January 2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice