Today we should have been focusing on the general election. Unfortunately the state, whether by coincidence or design decided to try a prominent Class Warrior. This follows an election campaign in which we have been followed around by the police and under constant harassment.
Jane Nicholl was charged initially with setting fire to an effigy of Boris Johnson on Bonfire Night and thereby endangering the public. It was very clear that on November 5th there was no case to answer but she was arrested and the Crown Prosecution Service brought the case to court.
Here’s how she was treated on that night: (photo credit Guy Smallman)
This morning it became clear that the CPS and the cops’ case was dismantling. They had to admit in court that it was a findamental right of freedom of expression to be able to set fire to effigies of Boris Johnson in public. At this point they should have dropped the case as it became clear they would have to focus on the harm that the fire may have caused when they know it didn’t. Instead they chose to consider an extremely serious charge of arson endangering life – a charge that carries a life sentence. Under pressure they changed it to a charge of endangering persons unknown. This was clearly refuted.
Meanwhile they waited for CCTV evidence on DVD. The CPS lawyer had not seen the evidence and the police DVD turned out to be cracked. We waited over an hour and a half for three of the officers to go and get a copy. Incidentally there were six officers present at the trial despite there being a list of witnesses that indicated far fewer. They spent much of the time waiting outside the court room by trying to eyeball us. When the copy DVD had been returned and watched by the CPS lawyer in the courtroom she went to the cops waving it at them and said “is this all we’ve got? It’s rubbish! This shows nothing!” At the same time the CPS lawyer became concerned about collusion amongst the police evidence.
They searched in vain for fresh evidence and new charges to bring. In the end and after five hours of meandering the CPS lawyer kept the court waiting whilst getting new instructions over the phone before announcing that the fresh charge would be that the lighting of the effigy placed a PC Cook in danger. The problem with this was that there were several pictures to be used in evidence showing PC Cook standing very calmly by the fire until it was extinguished. In his witness statement PC Cook did mention briefly having to “recoil” from the fire but that was because he was standing too close. He fails to indicate who it was that started the fire and his statement then mentions how he became aware that an arrest was going to be made. It appears from the statements that PC Cook was chosen as the man ‘harmed’ simply because he mentions recoiling at the fire. Several other police statements show inconsistencies and untruths. PCSO Crow claimed that the fire set the alarm off in One Commercial Street. Other witnesses do not recall this and no evacuation took place.
The magistrate didn’t accept the change in charge in any event as it would have altered the case substantially and mean the defence hadn’t been able to prepare accordingly. Under the circumstances they would have had to fall back to the idea that unknown people were put in danger and under those circumstances the case was dismissed.
This was a shambles from start to finish. It was an unjust case brought by the Met Police and the CPS simply to disrupt Class War. This case should have been abandoned months ago. In fact Jane should never have been arrested.
Each time their case fell apart they simply shifted to a different charge. They used the original charge to place bail conditions on Jane to disrupt her political activities. They failed. Class War has been very active in the months that followed this event. Today we fielded seven candidates in the general election. On top of this we won this case, against a police mob and state system that exists to harm us.
Congratulations to Jane!