police wanted to report him to the crown prosecution service with a view to prosecuting him for organising or taking part in an unauthorised demonstration within the socpa exclusion zone. as he did not feel he was committing any crime, steve refused to give any more than his first name. police subsequently said they would arrest him. as part of this arrest, although steve showed no signs of violence or resistance, they told him they would handcuff him. he resisted the use of handcuffs, and three policemen then violently assaulted him, witnessed by many passers-by and tourists outside downing street (and fortunately for his defence, this indymedia cameraman!).
when searched at charing cross police station, he was found to be in possession of several copies of the 'vanity fair' article by henry porter about the massive erosion of civil rights under tony blair. in questioning steve, police described the articles as 'politically motivated' material, and thus strengthened their case that he was holding an unauthorised demonstration.
henry porter, who held a very public exchange of emails on civil liberties with tony blair in the independent newspaper earlier this year, has now written to sir ian blair at the met as follows:
Dear Sir Ian,
This is a small matter but one which seriously concerns us. On June 18 a man named Steve Jago was arrested in Whitehall under SOCPA. He was carrying a banner which quoted George Orwell. He was later found by the police to be in the possession of several copies of a Vanity Fair article, entitled Blair's Big Brother Britain. As it happens, I am the author of this article but that is not relevant to the issue. The point is that the police told Mr Jago that this was "politically motivated" material, and suggested that it was evidence of his desire to break the law. The word sedition was not used, but clearly that is the light in which the article was regarded by the
Metropolitan police. The reason I write is to ask for your assurance that
anyone carrying one or more copies of the article, or indeed the magazine,
within a kilometre of Parliament Square does not risk arrest and charge
under the new laws. The facts of the article have not been contested by the government - we have a very thorough fact-checking procedure in the US - and as far as I know the government has not yet removed the right to publish such criticism or the right for a person to read it and make as many copies as he or she likes.
You will no doubt see the point I am making . If Mr Jago's prosecution is
supported by the fact that he had copies of an article from a legitimate
mainstream publication about his person, the freedom of the press is
critically affected. I therefore seek your assurance that possession of
Vanity fair within a designated area is not regarded as "politically
motivated" and evidence of conscious law breaking.
I look forward to your response.
Editor, United Kingdom.
vanity fair have issued a press release and the independent newspaper is covering the story tomorrow (unless some editor pulls it tonight of course)
steve himself was back at downing street a week later, with a placard appealing for witnesses to the assault. guess what - he was arrested! (story and film at indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/06/343499.html)
next week, he may try his luck standing outside downing street with copies of vanity fair - depending on sir ian blair's reply of course!!
henry porter wrote "I held a very public exchange of emails
with Tony Blair in the Observer - not the Independent. I want to pay the
Observer credit for supporting me through these months. They have been
i must follow the first rule of journalism - check your facts - sorry i misremembered!