There will be a press conference next Tuesday at the Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square from 6.30.
EMBARGO: For Immediate Release
EVENT: Press Conference
VENUE: Conway Hall, Artists Rooms, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1 R4
TIME & DATE OF EVENT: 6:30 pm. Tuesday 31st Jan 2006
UK COURT VICTORY FOR PALESTINE SOLIDARITY PROTESTERS
Agrexco UK Blockaders Acquitted in Uxbridge Criminal Trial.
Press Contact - Sam or Laura
Telephone: (UK) 07845039980
In a remarkable judgement yesterday, Thursday 26th Jan 2006, after a half
time application by the defence team in the Uxbridge 7 trial, a District
judge ruled that seven anti-apartheid protesters who had blockaded the
Israeli agricultural export company, Agrexco UK, had no case to answer and
the case was dismissed.
The charges of Aggravated Trespass and Failure to Leave Land were
dismissed after District Judge Barnes sitting in Uxbridge Magistrates
Court, found that the evidence against the defendants was ‘too tenuous’ to
justify continuing with a trial.
The trial had been listed for seven days but ended on the morning of the
fourth day with the dramatic acquittals.
On November 11th 2004 the seven protesters succeeded in shutting down the
UK distribution centre of Israel’s biggest state owned agricultural export
company for over eight hours, blocking both the entrance and exit to the
Agrexco UK distribution centre, near Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex,
and reportedly losing the company over £100,000 in profit, which would
have been channeled back into the Israeli economy. Amos Orr, General
Manager of Agrexco UK, said in court that Agrexco exports from Israel, and
the occupied territories amount to some $700 million a year out of a total
of $880 million which is the annual total of all Israeli agricultural
exports. He admitted Agrexco imports between 60-70% of all produce that is
grown on illegal settlements in the occupied territories.
The protest was carried out to draw attention to the complicity of
Agrexco, in the system of Apartheid that is enshrined in Israeli law. The
defendants acted in support of the growing campaign for an international
economic boycott of Israeli goods.
At a packed public meeting at the University of London Union, Malet
Street, London, on Wednesday evening, British/Israeli academic Dr Uri
Davis spoke in support of the blockade action and a boycott of Israeli
goods. He described Israel as the only apartheid state in the United
The November 11th protest focused on the ruling of the International Court
of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, earlier in 2004, which ruled that the
apartheid wall was being built on Palestinian land in contravention of
international law and should be taken down immediately, and also that
illegal settlements should be dismantled.
Supporters of the defendants had collected documentary evidence of
Agrexco’s business operations in the Jordon Valley that would have been
put forward to show their complicity in the ‘ Crime of Apartheid’ which is
a crime under UK domestic law under the International Criminal Court Act
As it turned out, this defence did not need to be argued, because
reference to UK Land Registry documents showed that Agrexco UK had built
both their entrance and exit gates on other peoples land and had no legal
right to ask the protesters to leave.
It also became clear that Agrexco could not prove they were trading
lawfully, being unable to show UK import licences for the stocks of
strawberries that were ready to deliver on the day of the protest action.
Chief Inspector Cumber of Hayes Police who acted as police commander at
the scene of the blockade invoked powers to arrest protesters who refused
to leave land, but had only taken the word of Mr Orr when investigating
who owned the land on which the protesters had set up the blockade.
The defence argued that even if it was reasonable for the commander to
believe Agrexco UK’s General Manager when he had claimed the company owned
the exit and entrance to their property, and then arrest the protesters
under this belief, as this belief was wrong it could no longer be grounds
for convictions for aggravated trespass.
In addition to this top Chief Inspector Cumber’s testimony was undermined,
by his claim in court that he had given the protesters a direction to
leave the property by 10:45am. Two other police officers on the scene were
convinced-as were the defendants-that the protesters were granted till at
least 11am to observe the two minutes silence of armistice day 2004, the
day of the blockade. A police ‘decision log’ which would have documented
the agreement had mysteriously vanished from police files he claimed.
The campaign to Boycott Agrexco continues. A website that will gather
information disclosed through Uxbridge case will be launched soon.
Agrexco lost over £100,000 in profits due to the 2004 blockade. The
defendants will call at the press conference for further direct action
against Agrexco. The defendants are holding a press conference on the
subject of the court victory and the call for an economic boycott of
Israeli goods on Tuesday 31st January 2006 (details below).
Uxbridge 7 Defendants
Tuesday 31st January, 6.30pm –
Conway Hall, Artists Rooms, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1 R4
Previous coverage of the Uxbridge 7 trial
Press Release and links to related articles
IMCUK coverage of the trial (Day One)
IMCUK coverage of the trial (Day Two)