Sheriff McColl stated that she believed the two policemen were credible witnesses – although no-one could explain why not one frame of film shot by the countless police and media cameras present in that confined space had captured the accused charging the police lines, as described by Merseyside PCs Grant and Keith.
Interestingly, the reason for the police tactics of mass detention on that day was openly stated – both police witnesses said that the police had decided to cordon and detain the crowd of 200 plus demonstrators NOT because of anything the demonstrators had done, or were doing – but purely to stop them joining up with other groups of demonstrators in the city centre.
The demonstrator was charged with Breach of the Peace, in that he allegedly repeatedly linked arms and pushed into police lines, and refused to remove a mask covering his face. He insisted that this was completely untrue, that he had spent almost all the time the demonstrators were penned in playing music as part of a samba band, and had at no time been face to face with the police cordon.
The two police witnesses, both from Merseyside, described how many demonstrators made determined efforts to break through the police cordon penning them in Canning Street, over a period of around one and a half hours, almost succeeding on some occasions. PC Christopher John Grant claimed that the accused had been involved in the attempts to break through police lines “for the vast majority” of this time.
PC Stephen Keith claimed that in the course of the struggle his hat had been set on fire, though it was not alleged that this had anything to do with the defendant.
Defence Solicitor Rhona McLeod pointed out how strange it was that despite the numerous police evidence gathering teams sporting video cameras, despite CCTV, despite the police having seized large quantities of film footage from the BBC and ITV, and despite the accused having allegedly been charging at police lines for the best part of one and a half hours, not one single image showing the accused doing anything remotely like this had been produced in evidence. Even more inexplicable, considering that all this happened within the same extremely restricted space of one small street.
The prosecution did produce one piece of video footage showing the defendant in action in Canning Street however. This clearly showed him drinking water from a bottle, surrounded by people standing about chatting.
But even more amazing evidence was to follow. PC Grant stated that the accused resisted arrest and had had to be restrained using an approved restraint technique. The defendant completely denied this, stating that he had not resisted arrest at all.
It was agreed by all that the defendant had been arrested while, after being detained within the police cordon for around five hours, the demonstrators were being filtered out of the cordon one by one, all being searched, filmed and forced to give name and address – most then being allowed to leave, but some then being arrested. This whole process was filmed by the police, and any resistance to arrest would certainly have been captured.
However the video produced as prosecution evidence in court showed the accused, in the course of being arrested, politely answering all the questions put to him by the police, smiling, and acting in a totally calm manner. Why was there no footage showing the accused resisting arrest? PC Grant was rather stuck for an explanation. Well, completely stuck.
PIERCING EYES AND FAIRY WINGS
Ok, so there was not one single frame of video evidence against the accused. But both policemen were “100 per cent” sure that the defendant was the man they had seen charging at the police lines. Both remembered his “piercing eyes”, his distinctive and unshaven face, his black hat with a badge on it, and his red and white scarf. These items of clothing were found on the defendant when he was arrested, but the policemen were adamant that this was not why they remembered them, they remembered them from being face to face with this demonstrator on the cordon, as he refused to stop charging at their lines, they were “professional police officers, trained in observation,” and they had deliberately noted “distinctive” features of demonstrators who had committed offences, so they could arrest them later if the opportunity arose. (Admittedly black hats and red and white scarves were not exactly thin on the ground that day, certainly more than a few men had been unshaven, and since the charging man had been wearing a face mask, they had only seen his face for the few seconds that they had pulled down his mask, but still….)
Was there anything else distinctive about the man who you saw charging at the police lines? asked defence solicitor Rhona McLeod.
More about piercing eyes, the black hat….
No, but anything else, she persisted, anything about his trousers for example?
No, they couldn’t recall anything.......ah, but wait, “I recall a hooded top,” remembered PC Keith, the professional police officer, trained in observation. “He was wearing fairy wings,” insisted PC Grant. “Are you sure?” queried the defence brief. “Yes, definitely, fairy wings.”
The video of the accused being arrested was shown once more. He was wearing a somewhat distinctive red skirt, covered with sparkling sequins. This was nicely complemented by a rather colourful orange T shirt, with “Zapatistas” in large letters. There was no hooded top. And no fairy wings.
“Was the man charging at police lines wearing sun glasses?” asked the defence solicitor.
“No” replied both police witnesses.
Several photos and a video were produced showing the accused at the demo, wearing sunglasses.
Photos showing groups of demonstrators were produced.
Defence solicitor : “Do you see the man who charged at police lines here?”
PC Keith: “ No”
PC Grant : “Yes, there he is, with the purple and red top.”
Unfortunately for PC Grant, it was not the accused. It was a female demonstrator.
“Do you see the man who charged at police lines here? “
PC Keith : “No, I see who you’re getting at, but that’s not him. Your man didn’t have sequins on his hat.”
PC Grant : “No.”
The defendant WAS in the photo. He was the man who PC Keith had insisted had NOT been the one charging at police lines. And the sequins on his hat were also shown in the police video of the accused.
“Do you see the man who charged at police lines here? “
PC Keith (confidently) “I don’t recognise that man.”
PC Grant. (not-so-confidently) “Impossible to say.”
Again, the photo showed the defendant.
Do you see the man who charged at police lines here?
PC Keith : This looks like the defendant… yes.
PC Grant : It could be the defendant, I’m not sure….
The photo very clearly showed the defendant.
In their attempts to identify the man who they say charged the police lines, in the photos, the police officers only once identified the defendant, plus one “maybe”, while four of their eight attempts to identify the accused were completely wrong.
The accused gave evidence. Calmly and clearly he denied all the accusations against him, and described how during the demo he was playing music with the samba band. He was completely unshaken by the cross-examination by the Procurator Fiscal, who gave the impression she was merely going through the motions and did not believe her own arguments.
Sheriff Isabella McColl took less than a minute to come to her decision. She believed the police to be credible witnesses. Guilty. “This was a serious breach of the peace” she said. She would have fined the defendant £400, but since he had spent five days in jail after his arrest, she would reduce it to £300.
Ethel McDonald of the July 2005 Solidarity Group told Indymedia : “The outcome of this trial was ludicrous. The defendant was clearly innocent of the charges against him. Whatever convinced the Sheriff to pronounce a guilty verdict, it certainly wasn’t the evidence presented in court.”
“The July 2005 Solidarity Group is pledged to support all arrested in connection with the G8 demonstrations. We provide practical, legal and moral support, and urge all facing charges to contact us. We can help trace witnesses, provide accommodation for defendants travelling from outside Edinburgh, have legal observers in court, and help in other ways.”
“We have been informed by many in the legal system that G8 cases that would normally be dropped for lack of evidence are being pursued for political reasons. We demand all the G8 charges be dropped.”
“This trial illustrated how the police set out to stop the Carnival for Full Enjoyment from taking place,“said Robin Freeman of Edinburgh Claimants, one of the many groups who supported the event. “The police witnesses said in court that the reason they detained people for hours in Canning Street was purely to try and stop all the Carnival participants from joining together.”
“Fortunately on the day the determination of the carnivalistas overcame the police attempts to crush dissent, and the Carnival took over the city centre well into the evening. The Carnival aimed to highlight the need for people to take direct action over the everyday problems most of us face, both locally and globally - problems such as debt, attacks on claimants’ and workers' rights, and the economic conscription of working class people into the armed forces. We need to foster that spirit of resistance in daily life.”
A G8 trial scheduled for this Monday 12th June has been cancelled after all charges against the defendant were dropped by the Procurator Fiscal. However trials of others arrested at the G8 are set to continue in Edinburgh till late August at least.
July Solidarity Group July2005solidarity (at) yahoo.co.uk
Carnival for Full Enjoyment http://www.nodeal.org.uk
(original article http://scotland.indymedia.org/newswire/display/2940/index.php)
anon (imc scotland feature)