Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Peace and Freedom - sacrificed at Blair's altar

More PhotosOriginally posted at www.indymedia.org.uk by rikki.

"Barbara Tucker was held overnight at Charing Cross police station after entering the SOCPA zone. She was taken by police to Westminster Court early this morning after 18 hours in detention where she appeared in front of Judge Snow at around 3pm. According to Indymedia, police wanted to remand Barbara at Holloway prison until her trial (set for the month of May ) amounting to five months imprisonment for a peaceful protest which she repeatedly asked permission to hold."

Solicitor Laura Higgs of Bindmans argued with Judge Snow on several counts - first, that the summonses bailed were related to offences in august last year, but that a similar case heard in September had already been thrown out of court as 'void ab initio'. Secondly, that imprisonment was completely disproportionate in terms of the human rights convention, and thirdly, that she was acting lawfully anyway (having notified the commissioner of her protest back in march).

For a while it seemed as though judge snow was still ready to send barbara to jail, but then brian haw piped up. his points were that Barbara had never missed a court or police station appearance, had complied fully with all legal requirements, presented no threat, and so didn't need to be bailed at all. also that since the police claim that her notification was unlawful had never been tested in court, the whole proceeding was an abuse of process. brian wouldn't stop, and Judge Snow made a swift exit while the court was cleared.

After a while, the judge returned to court, and announced that he had considered the issue of the summons dates, and would now be offering unconditional bail until a february pre-trial review (he stated 12th, but it is thought her next appointment is 22nd). however, it seems all the police have to do is issue summons relating to alleged SOCPA offences after September last year (of which there are plenty) and Judge Snow may yet again impose conditions preventing Barbara from demonstrating against Blair's Genocide, so her freedom and today's victory may be short-lived.

Judge snow also issued a stern warning that if Brian Haw ever interrupted his court again, he would be imprisoned for contempt of court.

Background
barbara has been pursued and harassed by police for more than a year over her pink banner which she wears in parliament square and outside downing street on a regular basis. at first she was told she could not join brian haw's (then exempt) demonstration, so she sent an email notifying the police of her ongoing protest in order to comply. ever since then, although it is clear that barbara has notified, the police have failed to authorise her, and have 'reported her for possible summons' on more than seventy occasions. the only case so far to have been heard in court was thrown out by district judge snow as 'void ab initio', and since then, police have repeatedly failed to present evidence against barbara despite countless pre-trial hearings. cases against her have been thrown out on several occasions, and one previous attempt to restrict her movements with bail conditions was also challenged and thrown out. it seems that barbara has 'confounded' the law with her unorthodox notification by email of an open-ended protest "until this government goes". police have tried various other methods to restrict her, with cases of obstruction of the highway, obstructing a police officer, and even attempts to have her sectioned under the mental health act - but still after more than a year, nothing has been proved in court. It seems they are not sufficiently confident to simply face her in court over a 'serious organised crime and police act' offence, and as the months go by, the pressure on barbara has been racking up. The bail conditions imposed today bring into stark reality the conceptual black line that artist mark wallinger drew on the floor of tate britain as part of his recreation of brian haw's original 40 metre display which he has named 'state britain'. although the whole of the tate actually lies outside the proscribed exclusion zone, if barbara were to step over his line, she would be breaching bail.

Instead, she chose to commit her breach in the very place that her protest is about - outside the residence of tony blair. she believes it is he who should be in the dock, for the crime of genocide, not her for holding her pink banner.

Links
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/01/361062.html
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/01/361139.html

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