she was taken to kentish town police station and held in handcuffs for several hours. i saw the terrible marks on her arms shortly afterwards and heard her distraught claim that she had been virtually tortured - all this for an 'obstruction of the highway'.
she was bailed to charing cross police station on the 4th september and she appeared with her friend steve jago. her lawyers had told her the police intended to re-bail her and it would be a quick in and out at the desk, so they didn't attend. it seems the police had other plans. they wanted her to come through to the custody suite, and, worried for her safety, she agreed to go only if jago could accompany her. at first the police refused, but then appeared to relent and invited them both into the corridor out of the public foyer. it soon became apparent this was a trap, and jago tried to film what was happening, while barbara tried to run out and phone her lawyers.
what happened next beggars belief. although there is no allegation of any violence towards police, jago ended up with bruises, scratches and a gaping wound behind his ear. barbara, also attacked, was refused her lawyer, held overnight at the police station and taken to court the next morning, where the prosecution tried to have her remanded to holloway. it was serco warders at the court who, realising that barbara had not been able to call a lawyer, did so for her, and with the help of a barrister, she was immediately released. ( http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/09/350217.html)
the shaky 'obstruction of the highway' case has never come to court, and has in fact been made 'sine die' (latin for 'without a date'), but this week, barbara and steve appeared in front of district judge snow at horseferry road under the 'obstructing police officer' charge stemming from the events in that corridor on the 4th. in a disagreement over whether to show certain cctv footage or not, both steve and barbara decided to part company with their lawyers and so appeared unrepresented. they asked for an adjournment to prepare their cases (given these new circumstances) but were refused.
officers came in to tell the court their stories of what had happened in the corridor that day - this is the only part of the police station not covered by cctv, so it is really a matter of who you believe. when i saw judge snow's aggressive questioning of barbara and steve on the witness stand, i had no doubt who he had decided to believe.
barbara was trying to explain the context of why she had been reluctant (indeed, terrified) to go alone into the non-public area of the police station, but snow kept cutting her short, refusing to hear anything other than the facts of the day of the 4th september. he repeated this sentiment over and over, that he was only there to reach a decision about that day. barbara broke down in tears several times at this bullying.
snow would not accept any evidence relating to steve and barbara's long campaign of protest within the socpa designated area, or their contention that they have been victims of an equally long campaign of harrasment, intimidation, malicious and unlawful arrests and violence at the hands of police. in narrow legal terms, this stance might appear defendable, but the subsequent sentencing rather gives the game away. for 'obstructing a police officer in the course of their duty' at charing cross police station (which is outside the designated zone), judge snow has imposed a 'community service exclusion order' which bans them from the designated zone for one year starting at noon today the 23rd may.
this date may resonate with keen socpa watchers. exactly one year ago, on the 23rd may 2006, police launched a £28,000 night time raid with 78 officers, to remove most of brian haw's display from parliament square. in january this year the case that brian had broken socpa conditions was thrown out by district judge purdy, thus making that night raid an unlawful theft.
steve and barbara will both appeal the verdict and the sentence, and it seems hard to see how the sentence in particular can be left to stand as it has no connection with the offence and only relates to entirely separate alleged socpa infringements, none of which have been fully tested in court yet. indeed, the only socpa trial of barbara so far was thrown out by the judge as 'void ab initio' (empty from the start).
judge snow's record with barbara is not very good. he tried to ban her from the designated zone (do you see a pattern here?) with bail conditions back in january. these were challenged and immediately lifted by judge nicholas evans who found them unlawful. snow also screwed up his original ban as it illegally prevented barbara from coming to her own trials at horseferry road (which is in the zone).
this time he has tried to cover himself with a couple of exceptions. first, he allows them to attend horseferry for cases in which they have a direct interest, and secondly, to avoid falling foul of the human rights act, he allows them to participate in a demonstration for which they have received authorisation.
brian haw is allowed twenty people in his authorised demo, and so thankfully these two will theoretically still be able to campaign against genocide by participating in his demonstration. but, parliament square does not have public toilets or washing facilities which are essential for a 24/7 protest, so it remains to be seen how this exclusion may be enforced if either want an ablution break in the vicinity of the zone.
one last problem with barbara's exclusion. it can't be lawful!
barbara lives at parliament square, and this address has been recognised by the crown court on a previous occasion. this means judge snow is effectively excluding barbara from her own residence.
i am looking forward to the appeal which will surely once again show dj snow as certainly an incompetent, and quite possibly a corrupt judge. but i am also saddened that so much time and public money is wasted on this ridiculous campaign to stifle the voice of dissent near parliament.
a full timeline of the history of socpa can be seen at http://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/12/358676.html
and look-out on indymedia for announcements and trailers of "SOCPA - THE MOVIE" coming to a cinema near you in June
you can book a seat for the world premiere on the 17th at www.curzoncinemas.com
go to the renoir - special events section - "DOCDAYS: Brian Haw and the Erasure of Democracy"