For Immediate Release, fortnum145.org
The first Fortnum and Mason 145 hearing takes place as our campaign continues to grow.
Yesterday morning, around 70 people gathered outside the court hearing of Fortnum & Mason occupiers as well as others arrested on March 26 and the student demonstrations. The court have decided to hold a case management hearing on the 27th June, it’s a high possibility that a test case involving 10-20 defendants will take place shortly after. We have to make clear that this decision is not fully confirmed and may be different in some cases.
The Fortnum145 campaign was established for the 145 protesters who were controversially arrested after staging a sit-in at Fortnum & Mason called by UK Uncut on March 26th.
The protest, that took place on the day of the TUC ‘march for alternative’, highlighted the £40million tax dodge by Associated British Foods which is majority-owned by Fornum & Mason’s parent company Wittington Investments. The figure of £40 million of tax avoidance has been calculated by fours years of operation of a £9.7 million dodge exposed by Tax Research UK. See here
Footage which emerged since the protest shows a senior police officer at the scene, describing the protest as ‘non-violent and sensible’ and promising that they would all be free to leave. In oral evidence from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lynne Owens to the Home Affairs Committee stated the motivation for the mass arrests was for intelligence gathering.
She said: “Do we now need to build on that intelligence picture? Yes, we do. It is why the fact that we arrested as many people as we did is so important to us because that obviously gives us some really important intelligence opportunities. … 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”
Sophie Stephens, a supporter of the Fortnum 145 said: “The treatment of the protesters has been a clear attack on the right to protest and civil liberties. The mass arrest happened amidst calls for the police to be given more rights spy on protesters. The police have even told parliament that this was an opportunity to gather intelligence about protestors. This is political policing clear and simple.”
The Fortnum 145 campaign is independent of UK Uncut and was established by family and friends for the 145 protesters who were controversially arrested after staging a sit-in at Fortnum & Mason called by UK Uncut. It aims to counter inaccurate reporting in the media that property was damaged inside Fortnum & Mason by these protesters and to highlight the criminalization of legitimate protest.
The campaign has been running for a short amount of time but has already generated huge interest. Since the launch, their website, Fortnum145.org, has had over 14,000 views and on Facebook alone, 3,500 people have liked the campaign.
Keep up-dated – follow us on twitter @FM145
Lynne Owens evidence to the Home Affairs Committee is available at:
A video of the police officer inside Fortnum & Mason is available at:
Today’s protest was organised by Defend the Right to Protest Campaign: