Wednesday, 12th February 2014: Debbie's trial begins at Winchester Crown Court and is expected to last about 4 weeks. Due to prosecution's failure to disclose information and late service of evidence, the trial was adjourned until Monday 17th February.
Monday, 17th February 2014: Debbie's trial reconvened at Winchester Crown Court. In an interesting development, the defence revealed that the 'Novartis executive' who campaigners previously dealt with, was in fact an undercover policeman, working under the alias 'James Adams'. The prosecution were pushing for another adjournment, but the defence put forward their argument for the trial to continue as planned even though there was a chance of an unfair trial. The judge heard from both sides and called for time to deliberate, with court adjourned until 10.30am tomorrow.
Tuesday, 18th February 2014: Following more legal arguments, court has been adjourned until Thursday afternoon, after which it will be adjourned again until Monday while the defense have time to go through late disclosed evidence.
Thursday, 20th February 2014: More legal arguments took place in court this afternoon. Debbie is due back in court on Monday, with her trial finally expected to begin next week. Some of the prosecution's evidence was taken out due to the undercover officer breaking PACE guidelines as well as other legal issues removing some of the prosecution's case against Debbie.
Monday, 24th February 2014: Debbie's trial began today. The jury was sworn in and introduced to the case. They then heard the prosecution's opening arguments. Cross examination of witnesses and statements will begin tomorrow.
Tuesday, 25th February 2014: Began working through evidence footage of 'secret' recordings that were made by the police during meetings with Novartis at court today, before the trial was adjourned for the afternoon due to a power cut.
Wednesday, 26th February 2014: The majority of court time today was spent listening to the covert police recordings from 2009, of three meetings between activists and Novartis, who were a top customer of HLS. The Novartis staff member present was Head of Security Andrew Jackson (AJ), revealed in court to have previously worked for the UK Government as a ‘spook’. Along with him was a man claiming to be Corporate Security and Head of Special Projects for Novartis, who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer, using the fake name ‘James Adams’ (JA). The activists were deceived about his identity and the police involvement. Both of them were searched by Novartis’ security before the meetings and AJ and JA repeatedly emphasised that the meetings must be confidential and not recorded, falsely claiming that they were not recording the meetings themselves. The activists were tricked into attending the meetings in unsuccessful attempts to link them to criminal activity, with Novartis and the police lying to them and misleading them throughout the process.
Thursday, 27th February 2014: In court both Andrew Jackson (AJ) and James Adams (JA) gave evidence. The defence questioned AJ about many of the scandals, cruelty and corruption that HLS and Novartis have been responsible for, but as became a pattern with him, he seemed unable to remember anything and somehow oblivious to any of the bad press his company has received. It transpired that he had lied on one of his police witness statements by claiming JA was a member of staff, despite knowing he was an undercover police officer. AJ admitted that the police had increasing involvement and were guiding the communication allegedly sent from Novartis to SHAC. It was stated that senior police staff from SO15 had advised AJ to lie about JA’s identity in his statements, seemingly with the intention of misleading the court (judge, jury and defense) throughout the Blackmail3 trial(s). JA later gave evidence himself, using his false identity and hidden behind a screen to shield him from public view. A start was then made on looking at the computer evidence being used in the case.
Anonymous threatening emails had been sent to Novartis using the alias ‘George Orwell’. The prosecution argued that Debbie is linked to George Orwell because she was found to have a copy of ‘1984’ (book written by George Orwell) on her hard drive, has quoted George Orwell in the past and also received (unsolicited) messages from email lists in which someone else had quoted him. The defence provided documentation revealing that ‘George Orwell’ is in fact a default alias of the email software used to send the anonymous emails. They also argued that Debbie has used quotes from many well known people and is far from having any obsession with George Orwell, as the prosecution are trying to claim. This was apparently recognised by the Judge, who said “she doesn’t even have ‘Animal Farm’!”.
Friday, 28th February 2014: The prosecution finished the first week of the trial by covering the admissions; including the history of the campaign against HLS and the previous convictions of some activists who were involved in it. The prosecution also ran through the schedule of events in the Blackmail3 case and looked at some of the evidence against the defendants. It was striking how little related to Debbie, with a lot of material referring to activists who were involved in the campaign many, many years ago. A police Forensic Computer Analyst stated that there had been about 40 thousand pages of evidence throughout criminal cases (relating to the campaign against HLS) over the past decade, but of that, only a few appear to mention Debbie. NDEU (National Domestic Extremism Unit) police officers Ian Caswell (now retired) and Christopher Cowley were called to give evidence. Questioning by the defence confirmed that both officers frequently did surveillance of peaceful demonstrations – photographic and taking details of those present (including recording vehicle number plates) and logging when people entered or left private events such as gatherings. More info on the routine surveillance of lawful protest activities can be found on the Fitwatch website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fitwatch/103821345868. The prosecution is expected to finish their case by next Wednesday, but the trial will likely continue into late March.
Monday, 3rd March 2014: Debbie’s trial resumed for the second week by running through some more admissions. The defence then spent a while questioning police about the circumstances surrounding Debbie’s raid and arrest. They were asked why they forcefully broke into the house belonging to the owners of the property that Debbie rented. The police were also asked why they sent 2 male officers into Debbie’s bedroom, before she was allowed to dress herself. A query was raised about the fact that 25 officers were present (all to arrest Debbie) and also why only 1 of them was female, despite knowing that their ‘suspect’ was female and there were 4 other females at the property. The defence highlighted how it could feel for a female to suddenly and without warning, have 20+ (plain clothed – so not immediately identifiable) policemen force entry into her house during the early morning, shouting and acting aggressively. After gaining entry, the police didn’t explain why they were there or arrest Debbie for some time. They eventually directed her to sit down by her computer and then produced a search warrant. Debbie reached for her glasses so that she could read the document and also switched off her computer (at this point she was not under arrest). The prosecution are now alleging that she turned off the computer to hide evidence, which the defence have argued. Following the police questioning, the focus returned to some of the foreign evidence. The defence argued that Debbie was not involved in any of the alleged criminal activity and was in the UK at the time.
Tuesday, 4th March 2014: During court today, the prosecution and defence finished their cases by discussing some of the phone evidence and some further admissions.
Wednesday, 5th March 2014: The trial continued with Debbie giving evidence for the defense all day, including talking about her life and her involvement in campaigning over the past twenty years.
Thursday, 6th March 2014: In court today Debbie continued giving evidence, including her cross examination by the prosecution for 3 hours. Court is now adjourned until 12th March because of a barrister's strike about cuts in legal aid and the judge being away, with the defence, prosecution and Judge expected to conclude their summing up of the case by the end of that week and the jury's verdict expected the following week. The proceedings are expected to finish by 20th March.
Wednesday, 12th March 2014: After a long weekend adjournment, the trial continued with more admissions and the prosecution summing up over an hour about the case against Debbie. After some more legal arguments the trial was finished for the day.
Thursday, 13th March 2014: The defense started their summing up which including details of surveillance, raids and issues about undercover police, which in between other legal arguments and admissions continued to the afternoon. The judge then mentioned that the defense summing up was too political and moral and the jury were reminded that the court was a court of law, not about morals or politics! The jury were giving legal direction about the charge facing Debbie and finished for the day.
Friday, 14th March 2014: The judge gave a fair and quick summing up of the case to the jury over an hour or so in the morning and the jury where sent out at 11:30 to start their deliberations as to whether Debbie was guilty or not guilty. The fate of Debbie now hangs on the jury. The jury didn't come back in the afternoon and the trial was later adjourned until Monday 10am. A verdict from the jury next week is expected...