Despite a top copper describing the activists as “non-violent” and “sensible”, 145 of them were arrested immediately after they left the building. They were taken to police stations all over London, with many being denied access to independent legal advise.
Ten of the original 145 were found guilty of aggravated trespass after a 3-day trial. Each was given a £1,000 fine and a six-month conditional discharge (one was given a higher fine for breaching a previous order in relation to his activism).
District Judge Michael Snow decided that these 10 people had “the intention of each defendant, by his or her presence to encourage others. [And] that each defendant by his or her presence, encouraged others to commit the offence.” In other words, these 10 were responsible for what the other 135 people did – just by being there.
The 10 defendants made this defiant statement on leaving the court.
Today, the 10 of us who were on trial have been found guilty of taking part in a protest.
A protest that was dubbed ‘sensible’ by the senior police officer at the scene.
We were standing up, or more accurately sitting down, against our government making harsh cuts to public services, whilst letting companies like Fortnum and Masons get away with dodging a total of tens of billions of pounds of tax every year.
Then we are put on trial, whilst it’s clear the real criminals are the tax dodgers, the politicians and the bankers who caused this financial crisis and who continue to profit.
We are supposed to have a democratic right to protest yet people like us, exercising that right and expressing our discontent feel the force of the law and receive harsh and disproportionate sentences.
We have been convicted of Aggravated Trespass, an example of a law created in the 1990′s as an attack on our rights to protest and which is used in situations like this one to turn protesting into a crime.
We will, of course, continue to fight this and will be appealing the judgement.
As the government’s cuts continue to destroy the economy and people’s lives we will not be put off by these attempts at humiliating and punishing us.
Adam, one of those found guilty, blogged his reflection on Red Pepper - http://www.redpepper.org.uk/fortnum-mason-trial-defendents-convicted/
The offical campaign to support the Fortum 145 is here http://fortnum145.org/