Alfie Meadows + Others: DAY FOUR

Click to shareShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

[Understandably, the barristers and the judge in the case are getting very anxious about contempt: anyone writing about the trial has been strongly advised to stick to a brief outline of the facts. The judge is a lot more worried about print publications than he is about the internet, though, but nevertheless reminded the jury of the recent prison sentence for a juror who researched the defendant online and told of her research to the rest of the jury. So he’s basically working with the idea that newspapers are “ambient” (i.e. you could come across coverage of the story by accident) whereas the internet is off-limits, based on the integrity of the jurors (and the threat of jail, presumably). I’m not sure how TV news coverage comes into this – also ambient I suppose. There is much to say about what’s been said in court of course, but we’re going to have to wait until the trial is over to go into detail].

The trial has now been adjourned until Monday. Yesterday (Thurs) saw Silver Commander Michael (or Mick) Johnson take the stand. Silver Commander oversees the tactical plan and decisions made on the day of an event (whereas Gold deals with the strategic intentions and Bronze units are on the ground (operational)). Lofthouse, prosecuting, began by reading through a long list of the events Johnson has overseen at different levels since he joined the force in 1980. These included: 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 court heard that Johnson had taken Silver Command over the student protests of 2010 after “considerable disorder” at Millbank on the 10th Nov 2010. It was noted that there had been arrests made at protests on the 24th and 30th Nov protests where there had been a “degree of disorder”, and also on the 8th Dec ahead of the protest the next day. It was noted that the containment put in place on Nov 24th in Whitehall was carried out following information received.

The route of the 9th Dec protests had been arranged with organisers in advance. Johnson stated that no rally could take place at Parliament Square on the 9th Dec as it was ‘not open for use’. He said he had expected similar numbers on this protest as had been there on the earlier protests against fees and cuts. Sections 60 (commonly known as ‘stop and search’) and 60AA had been put in place after intelligence had been received that people were carrying weapons/shields/concealed weapons (‘Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, gives police the right to search people in a defined area at a specific time when they believe, with good reason, that: there is the possibility of serious violence; or that a person is carrying a dangerous object or offensive weapon; or that an incident involving serious violence has taken place and a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon used in the incident is being carried in the locality. This law has to be authorised by a senior officer and is used mainly to tackle football hooliganism and gang fights’. From the Met Police website). Section 60AA concerns face coverings: ‘(a) to remove any item which the officer reasonably believes is used wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing his identity and (b) to seize any item which the officer reasonably believes any person intends to wear wholly or mainly for that purpose.’). Johnsonn noted that police had also received reports of robberies “in the area”.

Johnson then proceeded to run through some of the tactical decisions made as the day proceeded. He described the protest as ‘fairly volatile’ and ‘hostile’ at various points, and noted those times when police were commanded to don “NATO” helmets (these ones), though he stated that these were seen as a “last resort” as they hinder communication with the crowd. Johnson noted when containment of Parliament Square was put in, that this involved around “4-5000” protesters, and how protesters were moved on to Westminster Bridge later in the evening and held there until after midnight. He noted “ferocious violence” and the “intensity of the violence” and stated that the violence on the 9th Dec was the worst he’d seen “since the Poll Tax riots”. Johnson mentioned his concern for officers and for the Treasury which he feared may be “set on fire”, as well as outlining his concern that violence was taking place in the West End on the same day. Vulnerable people in the crowd were said to be allowed out of the containment, though Johnson noted that this involved “small numbers”. Johnson stated that his “primary objective” before the vote on fees that day had been to ensure that protesters did not interrupt “the democratic process” by preventing MPs from entering Parliament to vote.

The trial continues.

Click to shareShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

5 thoughts on “Alfie Meadows + Others: DAY FOUR

  • Just wanted to say big big thanks for this excellent coverage.

    The CPS case strikes me as a typical crock along the usual lines, but won’t say anything to get you in trouble beyond the observation that PO Section 2 is easier to convict on than Section 3 in these cases (as I demonstrated in a happy way in my own circs)- Also they pad out time with loads of plod giving it “I was so scared” when for most, if not all of the time it is pretty standard demo / PO fayre. Then there is all that stuff about “we can convict you for what someone you don’t know did somewhere else at a different time” and taking ages to detail all this irrelevant stuff, again to pad things out on some spurious quantity = quality basis. Do jurors know the charges are the most serious that can be used for people doing stuff that, on a Friday night after closing time, would be unlucky to get an £80 fine? Wipe this post if you consider it subjudice. I think I am being pretty generalistic and demonstrable. Not said anything specific.

    Steve (Manchester Green&Black Cross, NW Green Party)

  • LoL – love the way I said “will just say this…” and then screeded a whole load of potential subjudice. Seriously, wipe the lot if there are any concerns. Good luck and thanks again.

  • Steven Durrant,
    I think it is, to put it mildly, disingenuous to suggest that events that result in a charge of section 2 Public Order would “be unlucky” to result in an £80 fine on a Friday night.

    Perhaps one drunken individual’s actions over a very short period, unaccompanied and taken in isolation, in the context of the “night time economy” (which tends to start rather later than 6pm) might result in a fixed penalty. Unfortunately from the published reports that is not what is alleged to have occurred.

    Leaving aside the smoke and mirrors in relation to whether they should have been charged with the offence for which they are being tried and your telepathic ability to tell that all the police have presumably committed perjury – the “take home” fact from your comment might well be meant to be that those on trial are equally as guilty as the recipient of the £80 fine.
    But I suspect not 😉

  • Bluey. Your fingerwagging assertion that I am in any way ‘disingenuous’ would come over so much better if it were true. People have done pretty serious time for such foul deeds as lobbing 2 placard sticks, or tossing a used smokebomb into the corner of a doorway. These are distinctly below the levels of violence inherent to many a pissed up crime that would generally warrant a slap on the wrist. I have no idea about earlier time of offence (say 6pm rather than midnight) could be an aggrevating factor in law. I’m sure you have a link. I don’t know if the defendants are guilty or not, it is the absurd looseness of a serious and politically applied offence that is my concern. I am not psychic enough to know if the police have lied, but they very often do, especially if they are in the wrong. They know full well that they can get away with it. Prosecutions for crimes committed in uniform are as rare as hens teeth. They have a licence to be a thug in these instances. Many don’t avail of it but more do than you may like to think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *