Sunday, July 24, 2016

Crown attempts to appeal DSEI 8 acquittal

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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Crown Prosecution Service letter to Judge Hamilton

We received this letter from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to Mr Justice Hamilton some time ago, but decided that might be best not to publish it in the hope that the CPS would not pursue the judicial review.  However we are now publishing it.

F.A.O District Judge Angus Hamilton
Stratford Magistrates' Courts
Dear District Judge Hamilton

31 May 2016
Our Ref: 01/KF/4656015


We write further to your decision to decline to state a case in the above captioned proceedings. The decision in question is dated 5 May 2016, but was communicated to the Crown Prosecution Service on 20 May 2016.

The purpose of this letter is, respectfully, to invite your reconsideration of the decision for reasons set out below. Should you maintain your decision not to state a case the Crown Prosecution Service will have no alternative other than to apply for judicial review of your refusal, although, for reasons which are obvious, it is very much hoped that this course can be avoided.

As you are aware, the Crown Prosecution Service's application to state a case posed two questions for consideration by the High Court. Your refusal to state a case is made on the basis that the application is frivolous within the meaning of that term as set out in R v Norlh West Suffolk (Mildenha/1) Magistrates Court [1998] Env LR 9. The Crown Prosecution Service maintains its position that its application is and was properly made.

The starting point is section 111( 1) of the Magistrates Court Act 1980 rthe MCA 1980"). This section sets out the procedure for stating a case and makes clear that the function of the appellate court is to determine whether the decision of the magistrates' court is "wrong in law or is in excess of jurisdiction." The remedy of an appeal by way of case stated is available in relation to an error of law or a decision taken in excess of jurisdiction. The authorities make it clear that a decision on a questions of fact may give rise to an appeal by way of case stated, in particular, where it is alleged to be a decision of fact that no reasonable court could properly have reached on the evidence before it: see Oladimeji v DPP [2006] EWHC 1199 (Admin), a copy of which is enclosed for ease of reference.

Section 111 (5) of the MCA 1980 provides that justices may refuse to state a case where they are of the opinion that the application is "frivolous". In the Mildenhall case, supra, the Court of Appeal considered the meaning of frivolous in this context. It was held that a refusal to state a case may arise "when the court considers the application to be futile, misconceived, hopeless or academic." Lord Bingham CJ observed that a refusal of a case on grounds of frivolity is not a decision to which justices will often come. For the reasons set out below, it is respectfully submitted that the application in the instant case is not futile, misconceived, hopeless or academic. Indeed the contrary is the case.

In the course of your judgment you found that the availability of the defence contained in section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 was "in a state of flux, development and consequent uncertainty. I therefore applied the principle that any uncertainty must be resolved in the defendant's favour and I agreed to hear the arguments in relation to the potential 'prevention of crime' defence and the supporting expert evidence". The decision to leave open the defence of the prevention of crime and the decision to admit evidence relating to that defence were clearly decisions of law. The observation that the law is in a state of flux is, with respect, difficult to reconcile with your refusal to state a case. The acknowledgment that the law is in a state of development suggests that clarification of the scope of the defence contained in section 3 is a matter of public importance and properly a matter for consideration by the High Court.

In the course of your judgment you also found that the "force" used by the defendants fell within the ambit of section 3. This interpretation of the phrase "use of force" also amounted to a decision of law. The case law referred to by the parties in the course of oral and written legal submissions acknowledged that whether actions such as those taken by the defendants could amount to force within the ambit of the section 3 defence has not yet been authoritatively determined. Hitherto, the courts have been prepared, for the sake of the argument, to assume that activities such as chaining oneself to a vehicle and pouring sugar in a petrol tank fell within the ambit of section 3. In so doing it has been noted that the question as to whether these types of activities involved the use of force for the purposes of section 3 would have to be decided on another occasion.

This issue of law is by no means frivolous and is properly included within question one for consideration by the High Court

As noted above, questions of law may also arise where a decision of fact is arguably one which was not open to the court. For this reason, ground 4 as set out in the Crown Prosecution Service's application (dated 29 April 2016) contends that in acquitting the defendants, on the basis that their actions were objectively reasonable in the context of a section 3 defence, was not a decision properly open to the court. This amounts to an error of law and is reflected in question 1 of the Crown Prosecution Service's application.

In Kracher v Leicester Magistrates Court [2013] EWHC 4628, the High Court emphasised the importance of challenging magistrates' courts decisions of law by way of case stated, rather than by way of judicial review. Again, we attach a copy for ease of reference. The questions in this case are plainly decisions of law and an appeal by way of case stated is unquestionably the appropriate route of appeal.

In conclusion, it is respectfully submitted that the questions included within the application are properly matters for consideration by the High Court and it would, accordingly, be appropriate to state a case.

For the reasons set out above, we respectfully invite you to reconsider your refusal to state a case. This will avoid the additional costs of seeking judicial review of your decision, which should be unnecessary and certainly is something the Crown Prosecution Service is anxious to avoid.

In accordance with paragraph 20 of the pre-action protocol for judicial review, we request that a response to this letter be provided by email (to within 14 days (i.e. by 14 June 2016).

A copy of this letter has been provided to the legal representatives of the acquitted defendants in this case as prospective Interested Parties.

Yours faithfully

Crown Prosecution Service

Drop Hinkley Point - letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

Apparently a decision is to be made on Hinkley Point next week.  This would be a huge disaster and missed opportunity for the UK.  Let me outline just a few of the problems with Hinkley Point
  1. It is an unproven technology; with two other power stations being built to the same design being massively over budget and over time so that there is a serious danger that it will not be available when we need it.
  2. It is yet another massive development project in the South when we need projects and development in the North of the country far more.
  3. It is taking money from renewable energy.  We are seeing the government provide subsidies for North Sea Oil and Fracking both of which are enormously harmful while removing all subsidies from renewable energy developments.
  4. It offers guarantees of electricity prices for three decades, during which time we can expect the price of renewable energy to fall massively with the result that consumers (you and me) are likely to end up paying more for electricity to France and China.
  5. Nuclear energy leaves dangerous waste for tens or hundreds of THOUSANDS of years, waste that we don’t have any way of safely handling so that it is currently stored at huge cost and with a serious danger of leaks.

If the investment were instead put into renewable energy it would create thousands of jobs within the UK, provide electricity much more quickly and safely.

Please press the Chancellor to drop Hinkley Point and invest the money in renewables instead.  It will be better for Britain, safer and create more jobs in the UK.
Best wishes
Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fairer voting system - letter to Julian Sturdy

Dear Mr Sturdy,

Another week, another letter; but democracy is too important for me not to be involved.

Caroline Lucas has organised a ten minute rule bill debate to introduce a fairer system of voting.  We currently have a system where a mere 37% of voters gained a majority of MPs; and where over 4 million UKIP voters are represented by a single MP.  This is clearly undemocratic, and is undermining democracy.  We increasingly see people alienated from the political process because they do not believe they will be heard.  Any voter in a safe seat feels that their vote does not count, and that the government is determined by a small number of voters in a few swing seats.

Whilst the Conservative party is clearly the winner under the current system it is no longer sustainable, and when people feel that they have little or no say in the makeup of government they look for other ways to express their opinion.  We know that for many who voted for Brexit it was a howl of rage and despair against the system (we know because surveys tell us as do our own conversations with many people).

If democracy is to survive it needs to be renewed and refreshed, and as with the referendum, we need to ensure that every vote counts.  It is therefore imperative that we move to a system of proportional representation.  I hope that you can put short term party benefit aside for the benefit of the whole country and support the Lucas bill on 20 July.

Best wishes

Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Don't renew Trident - letter to Julian Sturdy MP

Dear Mr Sturdy,

As I am sure you are aware there will be a debate and vote next Monday on the renewal of Trident.  It seems to me to be a particularly poor time to have the debate.  With a new leader and new secretary of state for defence there must be a need to reflect on where we are and whether a Trident replacement is an appropriate use of limited money when there are clearly other greater needs, and the UK has just voted to withdraw from influence in the world.

I am aware that you are supporter of nuclear weapons, and would under some circumstances be willing to use them.  However, with the Chilcot report just published and it comments on our ability to undertake even conventional wars it seems that it would be appropriate to consider the most cost effective ways of defending the country.  To select hugely expensive weapons (around £200 billion over their lifetime) which would mean that we had already lost if they were used seems to be a waste of money when we are told that there is a shortage of other weapons.

I am opposed to all war, but nuclear weapons are especially evil because of the huge number of people that will die if they ever used; and most of the people killed would be civilians.

I therefore urge you to vote against the renewal of Trident, or failing that, to press for a postponement of the vote so that the matter can be considered more rationally and reasonably than in the current febrile atmosphere.

Best wishes

Tom Franklin
4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The right of EU nationals to remain in the UK

Letter to Julian Sturdy via Hope not hate

Message Dear Julian Sturdy,

I am writing to you as a local constituent to urge you to give your support for the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK after Britain leaves the European Union.

Exclusive polling by the anti-racist organisation HOPE not hate, conducted by Populus, has found that 80% of the public support the Right to Remain. The 4,035-strong survey, conducted between 30 June and 4 July, found that this position was supported by 84% of Conservative voters, 85% of Labour voters, 95% of Liberal Democrat voters and 56% of UKIP voters.

There is considerable anxiety for the 3 million EU citizens who have made their homes in the UK, and the 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries.

This is also a vital concern for many British businesses and public services employing EU nationals, who do not want retrospective disruption to their existing workforce at a time of economic uncertainty.

We would urge you to make a clear and unequivocal statement that EU migrants currently living in the UK are welcome to stay here. EU nationals should not become bargaining chips in our negotiations with the European Union.


Tom Franklin

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

HMRC response to FOI request re policing of DSEI

Dear Mr Franklin

Thank you for your email of 4 June about the 2015 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition. In your email of 4 June you refer to an earlier email that you sent to Jon Thompson on 26 April. Unfortunately the email address you used for Mr Thompson is not valid, so I’m afraid that email was not received.

In your email of 4 June, you stated the following:

Subject: detection and prevention of crime at Defence Security and Equipment International (DSEI)

In April a judge said trying a case of obstruction outside DSEI 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.” 

To set my mind at rest I would be grateful if you could tell me what actions your officers have taken in the past to discover these crimes. 
  • Have you inspected exhibitors prior to the fair? 
  • Do you have police in the fair briefed to look for illegal activity? 
  • Are you vetting exhibitors and buyers to ensure that no human rights abusers are present?
  • What level of resource are you devoting to the prevention and detection of crime at DSEI? And
  • In particular, what have you done to prevent weapons being exported to countries known to use them for human rights abuses such as Saudi Arabia and Israel?

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) gives applicants the right of access to recorded information, where that information is held by a public authority. Requests that require ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, or ask for explanations or clarification are not strictly requests for recorded information and do not fall to be answered under FoIA. Although your questions do not meet the criteria set out in the FoIA, I am happy to treat your e-mail as a general enquiry and to answer your questions accordingly. To the extent that we are providing information about identifiable persons (individuals or legal entities) this is being done outside of any FoIA obligations as such information would be absolutely exempt from disclosure under section 44(1)(a) of the FoIA.

HMRC takes breaches of arms export controls very seriously, and looks into all credible allegations of arms export control offences. HMRC investigators will carry out a full investigation where there is clear evidence of a serious criminal offence.

Since 2005, 17 individuals and 4 companies have been successfully prosecuted as a result of HMRC investigations into breaches of arms export controls, arms trafficking controls or breaches of sanctions and arms embargoes. A further 40 companies have paid financial penalties for breaches of these controls. None of these offences related to the DSEI exhibition.

There is no clear evidence provided to HMRC that criminal offences have been committed at DSEI in relation to UK arms export controls or arms trafficking and brokering controls, for which HMRC is responsible for investigating. No breaches of arms export controls were identified at the 2015 DSEI exhibition. During the 2013 DSEI event, organisers found some literature on the stands of two foreign exhibitors which related to electric shock batons and leg irons. In the UK and the European Union, certain trade in these goods is prohibited because they could be used for the purposes of torture or degrading treatment.

The two foreign exhibitors were expelled from the exhibition and the literature in question was confiscated and passed to HMRC. However, simply having literature relating to these items does not necessarily mean a criminal offence has been committed. HMRC officers assessed the situation and decided it would not be appropriate or proportionate to take further action against these two companies.

HMRC officers work closely with colleagues from other Government departments and agencies, as well as the event organisers, to help prepare for each DSEI event. We make sure that in advance of each event the exhibitors are made fully aware of UK and EU legislative requirements in order to prevent breaches of UK law occurring. Exhibitors’ stands are subject to compliance checks by the DSEI compliance team before and during exhibitions. HMRC officers attend each day to help ensure that exhibitors comply with their export control responsibilities. A team of HMRC officers attended the 2015 DSEi event and were supported by technical staff from the Department of Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) as well as other government officials.

Determining who should be invited to exhibit at the DSEI exhibition or who should attend is not one of HMRC’s functions. However, we work closely with other Government departments and the organisers in advance of DSEI and if we had particular concerns about an exhibitor or attendee we are able to raise those concerns.

In general, exports of firearms and military equipment require an export licence issued by BIS. HMRC officers work closely with Border Force officials to ensure that any exports of arms and military equipment have a valid export licence. HMRC and Border Force enforce anti-smuggling controls designed to detect and prevent the unlicensed export of arms and military equipment.

We carry out appropriate checks in relation to all destinations, and pay particular attention to those countries subject to United Nations and European Union sanctions and arms embargoes.

I hope this addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Lee Barham

Head of Customs Enforcement Policy

Saturday, July 02, 2016

The use of restraint, solitary confinement and strip-searching on children - letter to Julian Sturdy

Dear Mr Sturdy,

I have just read one of the most shocking reports on the use of restraint, solitary confinement and strip-searching on children in the UK.  This was a follow-up report from the Carlile Inquiry 10 years ago.  They key points are:
  • In child prisons, adults can use physical force on children. The majority of children are detained in institutions where restraint is routinely used to get children to do as they are told. This is unlawful 
  • Despite a decrease in the number of children in custody, the rate of restraint has more than doubled in the last five years 
  • Force that causes the deliberate infliction of pain on children account for over a third of all approved ‘techniques’ that can be used on children. Pain is being used illegally to secure children’s compliance 
  • 4,350 injuries have been sustained by children while being subject to restraint between 2011 and 2015 
  • The current crisis in children’s prisons has given rise to the widespread practice of holding children in conditions of solitary confinement on main prison wings, locked in their cells for 23 hours a day 
  • Conditions in segregation units have not improved since 2006, when the Carlile Inquiry described them as “little more than bare, dark and dank cells that exacerbate underlying risks and vulnerabilities”. Segregation units should be immediately closed 
  • Routine strip-searching has ended and been replaced by a risk-led approach. In 2015, however, there were 367 strip- searches of boys in prison
Full details of the report can be found on the Howard League for Penal Reform website here.

I hope you are as shocked as I am about this.  I have written innumerable letters to foreign governments about similar issues at the behest of Amnesty International, and am completely shocked to find that I am having to write similar letters about the behaviour in British Prisoners. 

I would urge you to
  • Demand that the Minister for Justice to take urgent action to address the issues by 
    • immediately banning the use of control techniques that deliberately cause pain,
    • immediately close segregation units,
    • ensuring that children are held sufficiently close to their families so that they can have the frequent visits that they need. This includes the need for affordable public transport access
    • ordering an enquiry into the use of restraint and the injuries that have been caused. 
    • ensuring that companies which have been responsible for assaulting child prisoners are stripped of their prisons and not allowed to run any other prisons
  • Demand that the Home Secretary order a criminal investigation into assaults on these children,
    • Ensure that those who have behaved criminally are prosecuted; and this should be both the individuals and the companies involved.
Finally I hope you will fail able to submit the following Early Day Motion (or something similar)

This house notes with grave concern the Howard League for Penal Reform’s report “The Carlile Inquiry 10 years on”.  In particular it notes that over 4,300 children have been injured while being restrained between 2011 and 2015; that many of the approved techniques for restraining children deliberately inflict pain; that the majority of children are detained in institutions where restraint is routinely uses and that this is unlawful; and urges the government to order a public inquiry into children’s prisons and to require that criminal behaviour is investigated and prosecuted.

As I say, I hope that you are as shocked and horrified as I am and will press this matter very hard.

Best wishes


Tom Franklin

4 Frazer Court
YO30 5FH

Training police officers in Saudi Arabia - response by Julian Sturdy

Response to my email about training police officers in Saudi Arabia who may use the training to torture more people

27th June 2016
Dear Mr Franklin,
Thank you for your email regarding British provision of policing training to Saudi Arabia. I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
I am in full agreement with you that the UK should oppose torture and promote the highest standards of behaviour among the security forces of our allies and partners. l have forwarded your email to the Minister of State for Policing at the Home Office, Mr Mike Penning, to raise your concerns, and to ask him for a fuller explanation of the provision of police training to Saudi Arabia.
However, I feel obliged to inform you that I do not think it would be sensible to sever policing ties with Saudi Arabia, and other nations with human rights issues, in the way you suggest. As I said in my letter of 26th May, I think there is a danger of making the perfect the enemy of the good when dealing with matters of this kind. I believe that British training can often be one of the best ways of encouraging the security forces of other countries to adopt more humane methods and practices. Less British engagement is unlikely to make the situation better in Saudi Arabia or other states, and could well make it substantially worse.
Moreover, it is important both for regional stability and our own national and security interests that the UK maintains a good working relationship with Saudi Arabia. Saudi involvement is crucial to ending the war in Syria, and it is an «important part of the international coalition against ISIS. UK-Saudi cooperation has also helped prevent several Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks that could have resulted in substantial loss of life.
I appreciate you may not be completely satisfied with my response, but i am very happy to contact the Minister on your behalf, and will write back to you and set out his response when I receive it. Thank you once again for raising your concerns with me, and please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of any further assistance

Yours sincerely 

Julian Sturdy