Tommorrow, 10 UK Uncut activists begin their three week trial at Westminster Magistrates Court over their alleged involvement in a tax avoidance protest inside Fortnum and Mason.

Of the 145 people originally arrested at the luxury store on March 26 this year, 29 face trials which will be conducted by the courts in three separate groups, ending in March next year.

The Crown Prosecution Service have charged all the defendants with Aggravated Trespass, alleging that each had an “intention to intimidate”[1].
Across the three weeks of this first trial Chief Police Officers will be cross examined and the defence are expected to challenge their controversial decision to use ‘mass arrest’ tactics. Information will be revealed about the alleged misleading of protesters by the police [2] and claims that arrests were made for intelligence gathering purposes [3], as part of what the protestors brand ‘political policing’.
Adam Ramsay, defendant, says:
“Unlike after the Wall St Crash, not one of the bankers who destroyed our economy in 2008 has faced trial. yet I am in court today for asking a company to pay the tax they owe so that my local library won’t be shut. Is this justice for the 99%?”

Nancy Jones, mother of a defendant says:
“I’m proud of my son for making a stand against the unnecessary government cuts, but i’m horrified that he’s now being put on trial for it! Isn’t the government’s decision to shut down libraries and youth centres a bigger crime than sitting in a shop and protesting about it?”

Jenny Rawlings, defendant, says:
“Going through this process of being arrested and now facing trial has made me feel that our so called right to protest in this country is a farce and that our legal system prioritises the interest of politicians and businesses over that of the public”

ENDS
For further comment please call: 07930449974 / 07771850963

media@fortnum145.org

A COMPREHENSIVE MEDIA ADVISORY IS AVAILABLE THAT HAS MUCH MORE DETAIL ON THE TRIAL

NOTES TO EDITORS[1] Full charge is as follows:
“On 26/03/2011 at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, W1AER having trespassed on land, namely the premises of Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London, and in relation to a lawful activity, namely the occupier’s retail business, which persons were engaged in on that land, did an act, namely entered the premises in the company of several others and demonstrated, which you intended to have the effect of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity Contrary to section 68(1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. ”
Third Trial: 19 – 27th March 2012

[2] Guardian article containing video of protesters being allegedly purposfully mislead:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/28/cuts-protest-uk-uncut-fortnum

[3] Lynne Owens, the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said this referring to policing on March 26th:

“We do need to improve the intelligence picture, but our ability to arrest over 200 people at the weekend gives us a very good starting point in terms of building that picture.”
See here for a full transcript:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmhaff/uc917-i/uc91701.htm

The trial schedule
29 people on trial between November 2011 and March 2012 Calendar dates:

First trial: November 2011:
10th, 11th, 14th, 16th, 17th,18th,28th,29th,30th November

Approximate break-down, open to change during the trial:
10 – 17th November: Prosecution’s evidence, including cross examination on Chief Police officers and questions of police tactics and ‘Political Policing’
18, 28– 30th: Defense evidence, including cross examination of defendants. Closing statements from prosecution and defence. Verdict.

Second Trial: 5th – 13th March 2012

Third Trial: 19 – 27th March 2012


Timeline of Events
*March 26th:

During the TUC organised march attended by 500,000 people, UK Uncut activists staged a sit-in at Fortnum and Mason luxury store.

This was in protest of Fortnum and Mason’s involvement in avoiding £10 million of tax per year as Private Eye revealed: https://skitch.com/politicalcustard/r39nr/fm-private-eye-1286

Senior police officers inside the store said protesters were “Sensible” and “non-violent” and that nobody would be arrested. In a controversial move, all 145 protesters still inside the store were contained (kettled) and arrested:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/28/cuts-protest-uk-uncut-fortnum?INTCMP=SRCH

All protesters had their phones and cameras taken, and many had their clothes taken, and spent nearly 24 hours in police cells across the city.

139 were charged with ‘Aggrevated Trespass’ on release.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/andreas-whittam-smith/andreas-whittam-smith-is-it-wise-to-criminalise-respectable-protest-groups-2257654.html

*Between May and July 109 cases were ‘discontinued’. CPS stated it is ‘not in the public interest to prosecute’

http://fortnum145.org/2011/07/18/good-news-cps-drop-109-fortnum-mason-protest-cases/

*August: 21 of those who had their cases discontinued sent a letter to the CPS ‘reviving’ their case with the ‘I Am Spartacus Tactic’
http://fortnum145.org/2011/10/10/press-release-spartacus-defendants-in-court/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/07/uk-uncut-spartacus-defence?INTCMP=SRCH

‘I am Sparticus’

In July, 109 of the original 145 cases were ‘discontinued’ by the CPS. In August, 21 of those who had their cases discontinued used their right to ‘revive’ a criminal prosecution by sending a letter back to the CPS asking to be put on trial in an unprecedented legal move that served as an act of solidarity with those 30 protesters who still face prosecution. They declared that ‘I am sparticus’ in the process.
These 21 are due in court around the start of the trial, but the exact date is still to be set. At this hearing the 21 will either formally put on trial or formally found ‘not guilty’, as opposed to being ‘discontinued’. A ‘not guilty’ verdict may strongly impact on the legal case of the 30 described above.
For more information please read:

http://fortnum145.org/2011/10/10/press-release-spartacus-defendants-in-court/

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