(en) UK EDITORS JAILED [appeal for support]

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 09:52:57 +0000

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 11:50:43 -0800 From: Gibby Zobel <bothered@pavilion.co.uk> To: media-l@tao.ca Subject: UK EDITORS JAILED [appeal for support] Reply-to: media-l@tao.ca

TRUTH RIP =========



Today [Friday 14th Nov '97] three editors of Green Anarchist (GA) Noel Molland (24), Steve Booth (38) and Saxon Burchnall-Wood (24), are starting a three year sentence convicted of `conspiracy to incite criminal damage'- simply for reporting on direct action in the pages of their organ. A fourth man, Simon Russell, editor of the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALF SG) newsletter, was found not guilty.

After a trial ( nicknamed `GANDALF'- GA aND ALF) lasting nearly three months and costing 2 million pounds the jury took an incredible four days before delivering a verdict that has sent shock waves through the world of alternative press.

"This ludicrous sentence is just trying to scare us into silence, but the last thing the defendants would want is for people to stop taking part or writing about direct action. As far as we're concerned, it's business as usual." - Jo Makepeace, SchNEWS

The trial was the culmination of Operation Washington which, according to police, had been running for two years, and at its height involved 60 cops. Throughout the course of 1995/6, 55 raids were made across the UK, with people getting their doors kicked in for such trivial reasons as buying a GA t-shirt mail order and writing to one of the defendants while he was on remand!

>From the very beginning the trial quickly degenerated into a farce:

* One defendant, Paul Rogers, was severed from the current trial when his barrister resigned rather than call a secret state witness * The extensive use of Public Interest Immunity orders meant that many documents couldn't be shown to jury or defence * Judge Selwood, an ex major general in the army, at one point described Green Anarchist as "the most contemptuous document I have ever seen in my entire career ". * At one stage Sgt Gunner, one of the Operation Washington team was sent on a week long all expenses paid `fact finding' trip to Italy, because he believed that someone in Italy had receieved a letter from a defendant that was relevant to the investiagtion! * One of the defendants was accused of the `crime' of putting a report about the Justice Department on the internet. In fact it was North American ALF SG co-ordinator Darren Thurston who did and the court agreed legal aid to fly him in from Vancouver, Canada. However on arrival at Heathrow, he was immediately deported as an `undesirable alien' on advice from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police! (that country's equivalent of the Special Branch)

And as one defendant pointed out to SchNEWS: "It's no co-incidence that Portsmouth was chosen- a highly conservative military dependant area with the second highest conviction rate in the country."

Conspiracy ---------- The case has highlighted the whole issue of Britain's conspiracy laws which according to StateWatch are "the most repressive in Europe." According to the prosecution, even just reporting the facts about animal liberation or eco-defence actions constitutes incitement, let alone printing opinions in favour of these. As you can imagine many believe the conspiracy/incitement laws to be a bit of a `catch all', with its heavy penalties making it a useful tool in surpressing direct action after the failure of the Criminal Justice Act.

The implications could affect the whole of the alternative media - during the trial magazines such as the Lancaster Bomber, and early issues of Do or Die - the journal of Earth First! were held up as material likely to incite.

As the statement of solidarity - signed by over 300 groups and individuals pointed out "It is vital that the press - alternative, independent, radical, liberal and establishment - unite to defend the basic freedoms under attack in this case: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is not for the police to determine the limits of our discussions........ It is not the reporting of direct action which incites further direct action; environmental degradation, animal abuse, economic injustice, attacks on freedom, weapons exports, nuclear weapons, lack of democratic process - these, among many others, are the inciting factors."

What Now? --------- All three are immediately to appeal their convictions; meanwhile the CPS are attempting to bring Paul Rogers to trial next year, while Robin Webb who was acquited last December is facing an appeal by the Crown Prosecution to prosecute later this month.

Prison address: Write to the 3 `guilty' men at: HMP WINCHESTER, Romsey Rd, Winchester, UK, SO22 5DS. As we went to press, the 3 hadn't been issued numbers, but the prison told us mail would still get to them. - contact Green Anarchist BM 1715, London WC1N 3XX for more details . Fax number of GANDALF support group: 00 44 1474 815 458.

----------------------------------------------------------------------- FOR URGENT ACTION Please, please respond and distribute far & wide

On the weekend of September 5th - 7th over seventy representatives of various radical publications met in Oxford for the first "Alternative Media Gathering." One of the issues discussed was the current "Gandalf Five" Trial going on in Portsmouth, involving editors from Green Anarchist (GA) and the Animal Liberation Front Support Group newsletter (ALF).

We are going to publish the following statement and are looking for as many publications, organisations and individuals as possible to sign the statement.

There are three categories of signing: (1) Publications/organisations present at the gathering; (2) Individuals from the gathering signing in a personal capacity; (3) journals, organisations and individuals who weren't at the gathering, but who are in support of the statement.

We need your responses as soon as possible. If signing in a personal capacity, please provide either your profession or the name of the organisation with which you're most involved:

Please respond, copy and distribute by all means possible - including abroad. Tell us who you've told. Send responses to: Corporate Watch: phone - 01865 791 391; e-mail - mail@corporatewatch.i-way.co.uk; post - Box E, 111 Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RQ (please try to use phone number or e-mail).

This initiative is separate to the "Gandalf Six Defendants' Campaign" (who can be contacted: "Gandalf Defendants' Campaign",PO Box 66, Stevenage, UK, SG1 2TR ). "Gandalf" comes from GAandALF.

BEGINS: Statement of Solidarity with the defendants in the "Gandalf" Trial.

We the undersigned are writing to express our solidarity with the five editors currently on trial in Portsmouth, England, on charges of "conspiracy to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage". We condemn this charge as a violation of journalistic freedom. Without a fearless and free press there can be no informed discussion and participation in public life.

On January 16th 1996 six people - four editors of Green Anarchist (GA) magazine, Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Support Group newsletter and the ALF press officer - were arrested and charged, on the basis of news and comment they had included in their respective publications and press releases. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of ten years. The trial began at Portsmouth Crown Court on August 26th against five of the six. "Public Interest Immunity" Certificates have been used to suppress evidence of secret service actions in the gathering of evidence.

Many publications include coverage of direct action. This case opens the way for similar attacks on any publication deemed to be in favour of such action. If the reporting of direct action can constitute incitement this has very worrying implications for freedom of speech.

Green Anarchist can be seen as an easy target, due to its outspoken and radical content. The police have been the prime movers behind this case - "Operation Washington", as the lead-up was known, involved 55 police raids and, at its height, employed sixty officers. It is vital that the press - alternative, independent, radical, liberal and establishment - unite to defend the basic freedoms under attack in this case: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is not for the police to determine the limits of our discussions.

We call on all concerned to vigorously defend freedom of the press. We call on editors and journalists to fairly report the case and issues, and we call on the Crown Prosecution and Judge to drop the case.

It is not the reporting of direct action which incites further direct action; environmental degradation, animal abuse, economic injustice, attacks on freedom, weapons exports, nuclear weapons, lack of democratic process - these, among many others, are the inciting factors.

Catch-all incitement and conspiracy charges threaten not only radical publications, but anyone making statements which could be interpreted as inflamatory. Any debate by any columnist potentially falls into this category: The attack on Green Anarchist and the Animal Liberation Front Support Group Newsletter is an attack on freedom and an attack on us all.

List 1 - Groups and individuals attending the Alternative Media Gathering: Corporate Watch Reclaim the Streets, The McLibel Support Campaign, Genetix Update Green World SchNews Justice? Ethical Consumer Magazine Peace News Jacklyn Sheedy - Genetic Engineering Network Peter McCaig, editor of Green Events

List 2 - Organisations:

The Green Party of England and Wales Progressive Student Network (PSN) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA The Socialist Future Food Not Bombs - Boston/Cambridge (USA) McSpotlight Bottled Up political zine, Pittsburgh (Pa USA) On-line Publishing Los Angeles Earth First! (USA) The entire Stockholms Anarchists "large meeting" of Saturday the 13th of September, 1997 The Brand Collective, Stockholm (Sweden) Third Battle of Newbury Local Voices of Newbury London Greenpeace McLibel Support Campaign Green Action, Sheffield University, Western Bank, Sheffield Anarchist Black Cross, Gent (Belgium) Earth First! Journal (USA) Hamilton Coalition Against Poverty Hamilton, ON Canada Soil & Health (New Zealand Soil Association) East Berks Animal Aid Berkshire Earth Action Berkshire Animal Concern Basingstoke Wildlife Protection Society. Reading Roadbusters Cookham 12 Defence Group C.A.L. Press Basildon & Southend Housing Action Abolish the Fur Trade. Forgotten Wildlife, USA SETA (Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Cincinnati, USA No Compromise, the Animal Rights Direct Action Coalition (ARDAC) Chatham 3 Support Committee SAEN - Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! Animal Defense League in Syracuse, NY, USA Animal LIberation Brigade Boston, NYC, USA BookCellar Dragon Environmental Network. Squall Red Pepper Forest Action Network/uk Manchester Earth First! UK Subs The EF! Action Update MAGE GE Free Prisoners Support Campaign Against Runway 2 Bluebell Wood defence campaign Friend of the Wildeness Youth for Social Justice PEI Island Residents Against Toxic Environments Public Interest Consultants

List 3 - Individuals: Kieran Casey - International secretary of Central Organisation of Swedish Workers Gibby Zobel - Freelance journalist George Monbiot - Guardian columnist Sophie Kempin - Worthing FOE M J Gilbert - Worthing FOE Leisa Tomaszewski - Worthing FOE Adam Church - Worthing FOE Ralph Dolan - Worthing FOE Paul (Polyp) Fitzgerald - Freelance cartoonist Michael Hoover, Ph.D. - Seminole Community College, Sanford (Florida USA) Lawrence Soley, Colnik Professor of Communication, Marquette University, Milwaukee (WI, USA) Hannah Archambault Cindy Schulze Shawn Sutherland - editor of "Johnny Can't Read" Magazine. Caspar Henderson - Journalist. Stuart Buchanan, Marketing Manager Deneen Sparks, editor - The Great Speckled Bird Spencer Ethiopia - Freedom and Mutual Aid Collective, Portland (OR, USA) Rick Wadsworth Duncan Humphreys (New Zealand) Rachel Hospodar - Bottled Up political zine Elaine Harger, Progressive Librarians Guild Matthew - ART (Anarchist Round Table), Christchurch (New Zealand) Jim W. Jaszewski Les Bullard Ellen Starbird Aikya Param, - Publisher of Women and Money Bob Malecki - editor of the bi-weekly Internet E-zine "Cockroach!" and European reporter for Straightfacts Radio. Robertsfors, Sweden Len Wilson - Denver, Colorado USA Roger Geffen - Reclaim the Streets. Thomas P. Fenton - Editor/publisher, WorldViews, Oakland (California, USA) Tara McCauley - People Against Racism, Urbana, (Illinois, USA) Nic Nakis - Big Brother 0 (USA) David Hoffman - photojournalist Steven J. Wagner - Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (USA). Hugh Warwick - freelance journalist Sanford Berman, Head Cataloger, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka (MN, USA) Chris Atton Yuval Weber Elizabeth Ruhland - Urbana (USA) Steven Gorelick - International Society for Ecology and Culture Ginna Husting Jason McQuinn, editor/publisher of Alternative Press Review & Anarchy magazine (USA) Charles P. D'Adamo, co-editor of Alternative Press Index, Baltimore, MD USA Steven R. Harris, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA Dave Thorpe, Managing Editor, Centre for Alternative Technology Publications Al Kagan, Africana Unit, 328 Library, University of Illinois, USA. Prof. Earl Lee, Collection Development Librarian, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, USA Gyrus (The Unlimited Dream Company, Godhaven Ink) Merrick (Godhaven Ink) Phagus (Godhaven Ink) Harper (Godhaven Ink) Ann Doherty - Corporate Europe Observatory Nathan Roche - Friends of Animals Under Abuse, Cardiff Mark Brown - Friends of The Earth Paul Poulos - Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Chris Atton - Library Association Mark Eden - Wellington Animal Action, Wellington, New Zealand Mansfield Mathias - Windsor & Area Social Justice Coalition, Windsor, Canada Adam Weissman - NYC Coalition to Sujatha Karanth - Architect Phil Clayton, National Secretary of the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (Inc.) Bill Koehnlein, Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School, New York, USA Marie-Claire Picher, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory, New York, USA Robert Allen (Pobal an Dulrá) Ciara Allen (Pobal an Dulrá) Catherine Heavey (Pobal an Dulrá) Christiane Jacobi (Pobal an Dulrá) Anne Sammon (Pobal an Dulrá) Kimberly Chicchi, Bethel Park, USA Adrian Harris, (Internet Environmental Journalist & Web Designer). Andrew Whitmore MA, IT worker & researcher Roger Moody, research journalist and author Sim Bamford - Software Developer Professor John Whitelegg Lawrence Woodland - Student Melanie Kingston - Journalist Simon Chin - Campaigner Rosie Johnson - Coordinator of GE Free Prisoners Support Danny Murdon - Subvertiser Laura Henri - Tree dweller at Bulebell Wood Katherine Lubar - Page Editor, World Book International Jerry Boland - Enviromental and Animal Rights Campaigner Robin Johnston Simon Redding Jerome Pimmel Morgan Kelly, Student Swathmore College, Pennsylvania, USA Mike Slocombe, www.urban75.com David Ransom, Co-editor New Internationalist Magazine Michael York, Marketing New Internationalist Magazine

________________________ http://www.radio4all.org http://www.radio4all.org/freepacifica

****** A-Infos News Service ***** News about and of interest to anarchists

Subscribe -> email MAJORDOMO@TAO.CA with the message SUBSCRIBE A-INFOS Info -> http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ Reproduce -> please include this section