The Crown, for purely political reasons, has chosen to spend tens of thousands of pounds pursuing eight of us through the courts, despite our already having been acquitted. Whilst we were trying to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity the Crown took obstructing the highway as more serious. But, having lost their case for obstruction they tried to appeal, and were slapped down by the Judge twice. Now they are spending far more in trying to get the Judge’s decision judicially reviewed! It is clear that it is not about our minor cases of obstructing the highway, but because they do not like the fact that the Judge went out of his way to make clear that illegal activity occurs at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair; and that the police are doing nothing about the crimes there. And the crimes taking place, or supported, at DSEI include war crimes, crimes against humanity and the sale of illegal equipment such as torture equipment.
The facts are not contested. The DSEI arms fair is one of the largest arms fairs in the world, held every other year in London, and each time illegal activity takes place there including both the sale of illegal equipment including torture equipment and cluster bombs and that weapons are sold in the knowledge that they will be used to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. It was also accepted that the police, and other authorities, do little, if anything to detect or prosecute these crimes.
A large group of ordinary people felt so strongly that it was necessary to prevent these very serious crimes that they chained themselves to vehicles, each other or the gates or simply lay in front of lorries in each case to try to prevent arms from being delivered to DSEI and hence sold to murder civilians in Yemen, Palestine, Turkey, Kurdistan or any of the other places where crimes against humanity are being committed.
This much is not seriously in dispute; the result is that all eight defendants were acquitted on April 15 by Mr Justice Angus Hamilton as we were trying to prevent crime. In his summing up Hamilton said:
“the court has been presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from three experts that criminal wrongdoing had occurred at past DSEI exhibitions involving the sale of arms to countries which then used those arms against civilian populations and the sale of items that were inherently unlawful such as cluster munitions and items designed for torture and inappropriate restraint. There was, as a result, a compelling inference that such activities would also take place at the 2015 DSEI exhibition.
“The court was also presented with clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence that such criminal activities are not being properly investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted. Ample evidence of this was provided by the three experts.”
In other words, the prosecution did not challenge our evidence that criminality habitually occurs at DSEI and that the police were doing nothing about it; so it fell to us as concerned citizens to attempt to prevent some of the most serious crimes imaginable.
In trying to deny us the right to use crime prevention the prosecution relied on two main arguments:
· That we had not used sufficient force to be able to use section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 which says “A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime….” The crown argued that we did not use sufficient force to be allowed to rely on this act; which has the interesting effect that the defence might be allowable if we had used greater force!
· That the crime was not sufficiently imminent to allow us to intervene; and that we should instead rely on the police to enforce the law. Which we were able to clearly demonstrate that they had failed to do in the past and no evidence that they would enforce the law this time.
With the court having rejected these the Crown chose to appeal by asking the Judge to “State Case” (ie to allow the appeal on points of law). However, they made such a cack-handed attempt that Mr Justice Hamilton was moved to write:
“I decline to state a case on the basis of the current application as it is frivolous, and in particular it is misconceived”.
“The CPS application repeatedly significantly misrepresents the contents of the judgement delivered at the end of the case and therefore seeks to challenge the decisions reached on wholly erroneous bases. The CPS application also muddles factual decisions with decisions of law and it is not open to the CPS to seek to appeal findings of fact.”…. “In these circumstances the very least the CPS should do is to read the judgement fully and, if appropriate, frame their application based on what was actually decided rather than what they seem to believe was decided. The CPS also needs to make a significantly better effort to identify any claimed errors of law as distinct from findings of fact.”
Rather than accepting this slap from the Judge they wrote a long and detailed explanation of their original request for appeal which the Mr Justice Hamilton also declined saying:
“There may be an appealable point in this case but unless and until the CPS prepares its application on the basis of what was actually said in my judgement (rather than something they appear to imagine was said) I am simply not prepared to implicitly condone such poor preparation by stating a case on the current application.”
Despite this further slap down the Crown has now decided to try to get the decision of the judge judicially reviewed by the High Court. Apparently, to achieve this they will have to demonstrate that no reasonable person could have acted as the judge did in refusing the appeal!
The Crown has already spent tens of thousands of pounds pursuing this relatively trivial case, but have now briefed a QC and prepared a two-hundred-page document! Yes! Two hundred pages! Which they have submitted to start the Judicial review proceedings. They are asking either that the court quash the Learned District Judge's decision to acquit the interested parties (ie the defendants) and direct that the case be remitted to the magistrates' court so that it may be heard in accordance with the law; or to make an order compelling the magistrates' court to state a case.
Note that they are asking for a complete new trial – which would presumably require many more thousands of pounds to be spent both by the prosecution and the defence as well as witness’s time and court time. I should also point out that we only offered one of our defences in the original trial – that we were trying to prevent crime as the judge said he would rule on that defence before hearing our other defences. So even if this defence is rejected we should go back to the original court and offer our other defences which include the use of the European Convention of Human Rights Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Article 10 Freedom of expression and Article 11 Freedom of assembly and association.
Instead, we hope that common sense will prevail and that the High Court will not allow this clearly politically motivated request for a judicial review, and allow our acquittal to stand.