Today saw the prosecution lay out the charges against Zak and Alfie. The charges are the same as the first time around (one count of violent disorder against both defendants), and indeed the crown’s case as laid out once again by James Lofthouse is identical to last year, so you can – in all seriousness – just read the report from day 2 of the trial the first time around to refresh your memory (the DVD also froze up at various points this time around too, despite being in a completely different court). The jury were also told by the prosecution that this was a retrial.
One thing that has been different this time is the level of police presence in the courtroom and public gallery. Yesterday’s protest predictably saw a high number of officers posted to the court, and protesters were corralled away from the main entrance towards the road (as the picture above shows). What we weren’t expected were officers outside the courtroom and standing in the public gallery: even at one point trying to get family and friends to leave so that officers could sit down. This was highly stressful for everyone there, but especially for those supporters in the gallery who had lost loved ones to the police. Defence council made it very clear that the police officers were creating a problem and were not necessary and thankfully they were asked to leave today, and did so (the judge yesterday said it was highly unusual – even at Woolwich, which deals with ‘high-security’ cases linked to Belmarsh, of which Woolwich court is a part – to have police officers in the gallery and said they could leave at their own discretion – but they didn’t do so yesterday, hassling people who wanted to support the defendants throughout the whole process).
The prosecution have not yet quite finished laying out their case against Alfie, so will conclude with that tomorrow morning, before moving on to the examination-in-chief of Commander Mick Johnson (Johnson has overseen many public events at different operational levels since he joined the force in 1980. These include: the unrest in Brixton and Southall in 1981, Broadwater Farm in 1985, every year of Notting Hill Carnival, the Poll Tax riots in 1990, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act demos in 1994, Kurdish protests in Haringey 1994-99, protests over the death of Roger Sylvester in 1999, J18 in ’99, Arms Fair protests in ’97 and ’99, several May Day protests from 2000 onwards (including, it was noted, the containment at Oxford Circus in 2001), the Bush visit in 2003, an Orange Order March, demos outside the Israeli embassy, Tamil demos, G20 in 2009 and many football games in Tottenham, Arsenal and Wembley).
The trial continues: it is likely to run from 10.30 tomorrow until either 1pm or until 4.30pm, so get there early if you would like to support Alfie and Zak: there are 24 seats, many more than we had at Kingston last time.