Facebook event here:
Friday, August 19 · 1:30pm – 3:00pm
City Of Westminster Magistrates Court
70 Horseferry Road
London, United Kingdom
On 19th August, the second half of the defendants remaining from the occupation of Fortnum and Masons will appear in court to enter their pleas and have their court dates set.
Our support is both an incredible morale boost for those facing the daunting prospect of the courtroom and also sends a clear message to those few that want to quash the right to protest.
You all know the story by now…
The F&M occupation was described by a senior police officer on the scene as ‘sensible’ and ‘non-violent’. Another description of the sit-in reads: “the perfect accompaniment to my tea and scones” – a sit-in to draw attention to the £10m/year tax-dodge by Wittington Investments, the owners of Fortnum & Mason while the rest of the country faces deep cuts to public spending and services.
After being assured that they could leave safely and unhindered, the protesters were kettled by riot police. They were then arrested one by one – some none too gently! despite the lack of resistance on the behalf of the protesters – handcuffed and flung all across London for detention. The arrestees had their clothes and property confiscated, their DNA and fingerprints taken and stored. In possible breaches of arrest protocol, the arrestees were not intereviewed and some went without food for the 23+ hours that they were held. Protesters were finally released after up to the full maximum 24 hours detention in all white tracksuits/paper suits in unfamiliar areas of London – a sizeable number of arrestees being from far outside London.
Lynne Owens, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has admitted that the arrests were made for intelligence purposes.
The arrests have been universally condemned – as ‘confusing political anger with criminality’ and ”threaten[ing] the right to peacefully protest’. A coalition of unions and NGOs released a statement of support for the protesters saying that they ‘were treated in a political and deceptive manner by the police which sends an ominous message about the right to protest’.
Tax avoiders and the government should be on trial, not protestors who raise awareness of how unjust and unnecessary these cuts to our public services are, so please come and support the second half of the remaining defendants.