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Verdict - guilty, but appealing (1/10/2005)

News on the trial for criminal trespass of the students who protested a commercialisation of science get-together at Lancaster University (UK) that involved Lord Sainsbury, Dupont, BAE systems (the arms dealers recently exposed as still funnelling money to Pinochet), Shell (the ravagers of the Niger delta) etc.

EXCERPTS: Free speech is now more of an issue than when the six were charged. We have been shocked by how many academics and management at the university are too frightened to speak out, or to stand as witnesses. The university has been taking down Freedom of Speech related posters at the university, letters to the staff newsletter haven't been published, there's been a smear campaign against the six, and they actively supported the prosecution to the end - to the extent of the University Secy advising the prosecution during the trial.

Despite the fact that the judge clearly stated that the six were not in any way intimidatory, it seems the University Secretary, Fiona Aiken, is still going around telling people (and the press) that they were intimidating staff.

More background: http://www.free-webspace.biz/GeorgeFox/
Sign the Petition:
http://www.petitiononline.com/gfox6/
---

From: georgefox6@linuxmail.org
To:
georgefox6@linuxmail.org
Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2005
Subject: verdict: guilty, but appealing
yep the campaign goes on:

Dear All

firstly apologies for the lateness of this email - we had wanted to contact all our supporters last night, but press stuff took too long, and we were so tired :-(

But many, many thanks to everyone who has supported us in any way. All your efforts have been greatly appreciated!

THE RESULT

As you'll have gathered from the subject line, the judge found the six guilty of aggravated trespass. The six have already put in an appeal.

The appeal will be on several grounds, but those of you who came to court will I'm sure, also have gained an impression of whether or not the judge was impartial, or actually biased against any kind of protest.

The sentence was conditional discharge for two years (ie - if they get convicted of anything in the next 2 years the sentence for this case will be reviewed). So there's no fine - but they do have to pay £300 EACH in costs. This is very steep - particularly considering how minor the offence was considered - even by the judge, and the fact that none of the six have a particularly generous income (most have no income, being students!)

The prosecution failed to show that the six were intimidatory, and Matt was found not guilty of causing 'harrasment, alarm or distress' to a policeman by asking him about the morality of his policing a demonstration outside a conference where people complicit in murder and genocide were attending. Matt was kicked in the leg and arrested for his questions. The two police on the scene couldn't agree as to what happened (it seems the two officers believe that Matt was simultaneously holding a banner, holding two banners, holding no banners, squaring up to the officer, attempting to head butt him (the officer was about a foot taller than matt), waving his fists around and pointing, not to mention asking philosophical questions).

None of the prosecution's other witnesses who were watching saw any of this acrobatic display of matt's.

Despite the fact that the judge clearly stated that the six were not in any way intimidatory, it seems the University Secretary, Fiona Aiken, is still going around telling people (and the press) that they were intimidating staff.

WHAT NOW

The six have already a lodged an appeal.

The campaign also goes on. Free speech is now more of an issue than when the six were charged. We have been shocked by how many academics and management at the university are too frightened to speak out, or to stand as witnesses. The university has been taking down Freedom of Speech related posters at the university, letters to the staff newsletter haven't been published, there's been a smear campaign against the six, and they actively supported the prosecution to the end - to the extent of the University Secy advising the prosecution during the trial.

We will be working with the students' and lecturers' unions to address the issues of free speech and freedom from intimidation on campus. If you work at the university and are concerned about these issues then please get in touch with the GF6 Support Group (georgefox6@linuxmail.org), or LUSU or the AUT.

There are statements and background information on the GF6 website:
http://www.free-webspace.biz/GeorgeFox/index.html

Again, many thanks for all the support, and watch this space - the campaign continues!

max

More info: http://www.free-webspace.biz/GeorgeFox/
Sign the Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/gfox6/

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