Today the 21 Spartacus defendants, who reinstated their cases after they were dropped by the CPS, had their cases formally dismissed after pleading ‘not guilty’ and having no evidence presented against them.
This throws the conviction of 10 people for aggravated trespass last week into stark relief. The judgement was made that these defendants were guilty on the basis of joint enterprise – that as a group they had intended to intimidate. This was despite the fact that none of the defendants were shown to be doing anything intimidating.The CPS chose to drop 109 cases, leaving 30 to face trial. Then, due to a processing error, they accidentally dropped one of the 30 cases, leaving 29. The first 10 defendants were there because they had previous convictions (a point which was ruled as not relevant to the case at hand), or because they were carrying placards (in one case, the placard was a UCU placard) or used a megaphone. Perhaps the most ridiculous was one defendant who was seen on CCTV to pick up a green umbrella and open it.
The facts are simple. The 21 spartacus defendants walked into the shop, along with those still facing trial. They participated in the meetings, and remained in the shop until the group decided to leave, and were subsequently arrested.
The very basis that the prosecution used to divide the defendants has been dismissed as irrelevant – but we still have very different outcomes for various defendants.
This is great news that the Spartacus defendants were found not guilty. We hope that this decision will help the court of appeal to make the right decision about those convicted last week, and that people are not intimidated from protesting about issues they care about.