"Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong..."
Kafka, keep quiet , you've had your say.
Now it's my turn. Give me a word in edgeways, please...
Someone must have been telling lies about Davy K., he knew he had done nothing wrong...
Life itself is one long Trial, or a series of little trials...I know, I know. But what I am about to face is no metaphor. It's the real thing.
Soon I have to travel to a distant city to stand trial.
After many delays (due to the dilatoriness of Her Majesty's Constabulary in providing their vaunted video 'evidence' against me), the date of my TRIAL in Edinburgh now falls during the famous Festival (2006). As a former performer in the Fringe, it occurs to me that a trial has a certain theatricality about it too.
It may well prove to be a SHOW TRIAL! Whether it's played out as Farce or Tragedy remains to be seen. I suppose I shall be the reluctant Star. One performance only, I trust.
Anyway, the threat of this looming TRIAL has been hanging over my head like a veritable Sword of Damocles since last July (2005). If I were sure that it was also the Sword of Justice, fair enough, but I have reason to doubt. For a start, there is to be no jury. A justice deficit there, don't you think? But we live in a world where the innocent are often punished & the guilty get rewarded. Just deserts are too much to expect.
Perhaps it's a two-edged sword. You have to be practiced in using such a weapon or you could get hurt.
In this particular TRIAL, instead of a Judge, there will be a Sheriff - that's what they're called in Scotland. The only one I know of is the Sheriff of Nottingham & he was a real villain. Of course, there were the Wild West variety as well. Wyatt Earp et cetera. And there's that Bob Marley song: 'I shot the Sheriff'. But perhaps I shouldn't mention that, in case I appear to be inciting violence or glorifying terrorism. These are paranoid times. [NB for the record, in my opinion, firearms should be banned, the manufacture of bullets prohibited.]
BACKSTORY: During the anti-G8 'Carnival for Full Enjoyment' in Edinburgh on 4th July (ironically symbolic date in that participants were asserting independence from the U.S.A.) 2005 in Edinburgh, Riot Police imposed an illegal cordon on a peaceful procession (more details & some images here) After being detained for about 4 hours against my will, I was arrested by said Riot Police while waiting passively to be let out. They arrested many others that day too, who have their own stories to tell. This is only what happened to Yours Truly. Various concocted charges were brought against me. Soon I shall be standing trial.
Of course, I realize that in the Great Scheme of Things, my TRIAL rates as no more than a vanishingly tiny minor matter, but that's not to say it's entirely trivial. Subjectively, at least, its impact is significant. It affects my life, my health. I can honestly say that not a day or night has gone by since the trauma of my arrest that I haven't thought & worried about the ordeal I shall have to go thru. If found guilty, I shall be branded a criminal.
Perhaps the word Scapegoat would be more accurate (Figuratively-speaking, obviously, I'm not suggesting I have 4 legs & 2 horns - see painting below - that would be boasting!) The police had to arrest a certain number of people in order to justify the massive bill for policing the G8 Summit. Also, they wanted to be seen to be tough, to deter demonstrations. In less repressive times, I would not have been arrested. I can't help suspecting I was picked on because I dared to speak to the police & perhaps told them something they preferred not to hear. And, no, I don't have a persecution complex. So, here I am, a victim of blatantly politicised policing, about to face a court case against me.
(The Scapegoat by Holman Hunt)
Maybe I shouldn't be unduly bothered. This civilisation is headed for imminent collapse anyway! Why care about the opinion of those in control of a corrupt & doomed system?
I would also include a picture of a SACRIFICIAL LAMB, but it might offend the squeamish...
Ancient Greek Philosopher Socrates was famously put on trial. Instead of defending himself, which in the circumstances might have been a wise move, he questioned the very basis for the trial. Unfortunately for him (& the history of Western Philosophy), he was found guilty (the Athenian jury didn't like a smart-arse) & had to drink hemlock.
This has little or nothing to do with my trial, although it is an example of someone convicted on trumped up charges & like him I know that I know nothing (or little).
Bertrand Russell, who was himself arrested a few times, said:
"Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim"
but he was just an eccentric philosopher. What do you expect?
Famous figures like Gandhi & Nelson Mandela stood trial & went to prison but are now rightly revered. While it would be hubristic (& quite frankly ludicrous) to compare myself to these heroes, it goes to show that a criminal conviction doesn't stand in the way of virtue or even greatness.
MP George Galloway is in no way shy when it comes to defending himself (& accusing others) in public. He made mincemeat of the US Senate Committee at the famous hearing on 17 May 2005, utterly refuting malicious allegations against him, his oratorical skill & mighty rhetoric rightly applauded around the world. Respect!
However, for all his eloquence, even he failed to sway a Scottish Court when he was convicted of Breach of the Peace & fined £180 (following his arrest at the Big Blockade of Faslane in February 2001).
What I do have in common with them is this: the charges were brought against me for POLITICAL reasons. My little trial is POLITICAL rather than anything to do with supposed criminality.
Remember, my arrest took place in the context of an anti-G8 demonstration. The police would not have been there in such numbers & with such an aggressively repressive agenda were it not for the presence of those terrible twins Dubya & Tony (double trouble!!) on Scottish soil.
If there were any real justice in the world, Messers (sic) Bush & Blair would be put on trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (International War Crimes Tribunal), as they are guilty of 'a crime against peace', 'the supreme international crime' according to the principles of international law identified at Nuremberg. However, they both remain in power (as of August 2006)...
How can anyone be expected to respect the law when our leaders openly flout it with complete impunity?
"Every year about 15,000 are charged with breach of the peace under Scottish common law." (Source: BBC)
Soon I may be adding to that number...
However, if justice were truly to be done, this case would be dismissed without further ado.
TRIAL A TRAVESTY
(Some hasty notes)
The fateful day of my Trial finally arrived on 22nd August 2006. It turned out to be a travesty of justice.
After having to sit thru the sentencing of a woman who had embezzled £15,000 from her boss, proceedings got underway at about 11am.
- My defence solicitor pleaded 'Not Guilty' on my behalf
(The charges against me: "on 04 July 2005 at Canning Street, Edinburgh you DAVID KING did whilst acting with a disorderly crowd and with your face covered conduct yourself in a disorderly manner shout, swear, threaten to urinate and defecate on police officers, place the lieges in a state of fear and alarm and commit a breach of the peace")
- 1st Police Witness
Examined by Crown
Cross-examined by defence
Vague & Downright Wrong
The officer was very vague about details, & got some information wrong, eg he claimed the crowd 'congregated' in Canning Street & was asked to disperse. On the contrary, it was pointed out by defence, that the procession was cordoned into Canning Street & prevented from leaving for at least 3½ hours.
However, he claimed to be completely certain that I called the police "animals" & "fucking fascists" & "arseholes" & threatened to 'defecate & urinate" (sic) "on" them, then "at" them. He claimed these were my actual words.
He confirmed that he took no verbatim notes at the time.
He denied that he could be mistaken in his recollection.
He agreed that my bandana was worn only as a neckerchief & did not cover my face.
Video of police evidence shown. Sound on the TV equipment faulty.Trial had to be shifted to another courtroom (this took some time), where it was then shown in full. Video lasts 6 minutes 47 seconds (out of approx. 3½ hours in Canning Street). It consists of 12 edited clips, one of which is repeated twice. Many of the clips are irrelevant to the charges.
I used the word 'bloody' ('your bloody helicopters burning carbon') ONCE. The clip was repeated twice. That was the 'worst' swear word I used.
(The video shows another person repeatedly using the word 'fucking' to me. I do not reciprocate but walk away peacefully. The other person was NOT arrested for swearing.)
(Also, incidentally, the Procurator Fiscal (name of prosecutor in Scotland) audibly used the phrase 'bloody thing' in the courtroom earlier in some pre-trial banter!)
In the video, the senior officer present is shown making a loud-hailer announcement that under Section 14 of Public Order Act 1986 he is Imposing a cordon. An edited-in voiceover gives the time as 12.54.
I am heard to remonstrate: 'Lies, lies. Police State.' Once only, lasting a few seconds.
In fact, the officer WAS misrepresenting the truth. Not only does Section 14 POA not authorize cordons, it does not even apply to processions. Therefore the officer was applying the law incorrectly.
In the video I also clearly state " I believe in peace & am completely non-violent."
Memory Malfunction, Mistaken Identity
- 2nd Police Witness
Examined by Crown
Cross-examined by defence
When asked to identify me, he pointed to someone in the public gallery at the back right hand side of the room. I was sitting where defendants usually sit in the centre of the court directly facing the sheriff. The Procurator Fiscal (prosecutor) prompted him to try again. He again identified the wrong person. After repeated prompting from the P.F., who drew his attention to my photo displayed in the paused video, the officer finally pointed to me. The person he originally pointed to several times bore no resemblance to me & was of much larger physical stature.
The officer said his memory was vague because the events had occurred over a year ago. He couldn't remember important details about whether there were police lines at both ends of Canning Street (there were, ie the cordon). He claimed the crowd had "brought Canning Street to a halt", whereas the police had brought the procession to a halt in Canning Street with their cordon & there was no other traffic in what is a fairly quiet side street.
Despite these imprecisions & lapses of memory, he was adamant in his certainty that I called the police 'animals' & "arseholes" (corroborating the first witness) & 'fascist bastards' (slight variation on first witness).
He also echoed the first witness in the 'threatened to defecate & urinate' accusation. However, when questioned closely on this he admitted he wasn't sure if I had used the words 'defecate & urinate" or the more vernacular "shit & piss". On reflection, he opted for "defecate & urinate" as the exact words I used.
He claimed I was "aggressive", without specifying how exactly, & said that I became more so as the afternoon wore on (a period conveniently not shown in the video evidence, although police video cameras, plural, were present all afternoon filming any approaches to the police lines.)
He conceded that he did not feel 'frightened or alarmed' by my behaviour, but was upset.
He would admit to no possibility that his recollection of what I said may have been in any way flawed, given the confusion of events & the presence of several hundred other people.
He denied that he was lying or committing perjury. (I asked my solicitor not to use these words before the trial, but she threatened not to represent me with seconds to go before we entered the courtroom so I was reluctantly forced to agree that she could use them - as they were accurate if not diplomatic.)
Finally I Get to Speak ...
- My solicitor suggested closing defence at this point, but I said I wished to speak in my defence (so that I could refute the police allegations.)
- I was questioned by my solicitor
I explained that my visit to Edinburgh was my first break away from home for 5 years. I attended a talk by the Green MEP Caroline Lucas at the Usher Hall on Sunday night, 3rd July. I spoke to the owner of a bookstall there. He said he had a bookshop at St John's Church at the West End of Princes Street. The next day (4th), I went there. I saw there was a Carnival Procession gathering in the vicinity. I had half an hour spare before going to a talk on Climate Change at Teviot Row. As I've enjoyed Carnivals since I was a kid & am interested in both the history & contemporary manifestations of Carnival, I decided to follow the Samba Band & other colourfully dressed street theatre characters for approx. half an hour before the talk. I saw that the police allowed the procession to begin, so assumed it was legal. Within minutes & without warning, the entirely peaceful & orderly carnival had been penned into Canning Street. We were not allowed to leave. I knew no-one else in the procession. I did not consider myself part of a 'disorderly crowd'.
I refuted accusations of what I said to the police.
For instance, having been vegetarian for the best part of 40 years, & loving & respecting animals, I do not use the word 'animals' as term of abuse. I did not call the police 'animals'. It would be fairer to say that they are all too human, especially in their mistaken recollection of events.
I said I did not use vulgar Americanisms like "A***holes" & that whoever had scripted this had watched too many Hollywood movies. I don't speak that way, it is simply not my style. I am an Honours English Graduate & do not need to resort to such vocabulary.
I denied threatening to 'defecate & urinate on' the police, pointing out the physical impossiblity of doing so 'on' a row of 6' something riot police. I suggested that it was an extremely unlikely scenario & quite frankly absurd.
The less sensational truth of the matter was that I had quietly & politely asked to be released from the cordon as I needed to go to toilet. A policeman had told me that we were to use the toilets in the nearby office building, whose staff would let us in. I tried but the doors were locked & the staff refused to open them. So I had no alternative but to 'hold it in'. After my arrest, I asked repeatedly to be allowed to urinate & was finally instructed to do so into an empty water bottle while wearing handcuffs. When I said that this was not possible, one handcuff was freed & I was allowed to micturate in the gutter.
...But Am Curtailed
Defence questioning ended, although my solicitor had assured me beforehand that I would get a chance to address & refute each charge, the video evidence & the police statements. I was only allowed to say a tiny fraction of what I needed to. There was a palpable sense of hurry, as the afternoon was wearing on (after the delay of changing courtrooms.)
- I was cross examined by the so-called 'Crown'
The Procurator Fiscal was much outraged by my use of the phrase 'police state' to describe what I experienced. I told him that I was nmerely echoing the driver of an Edinburgh Omnibus ("it looks like a police state out there") & also more tellingly George Churchill-Coleman, who headed Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist squad as they worked to counter the IRA during their mainland attacks in the late 1980s & early 1990s.
He interrupted me at this point, but I insisted in referencing the actual quotation to prove I wasn't just making it up. I read
"He (Churchill-Coleman) said in an interview with the Guardian 28th January 2005, ' I have a horrible feeling that we are sinking into a police state and that's not good for anybody. We live in a democracy and we should police on those standards."
The prosecutor was visibly annoyed by my remarks. He reprimanded me that I had to obey the laws that the police imposed.
I wished to inform him that the senior officer had actually applied the wrong law (Section 14 POA, see above) but was not allowed to do so.
Summing Up Doesn't Add Up
- Summing up by P.F. He exchanged a few case references relating to Breach of the Peace with the Sheriff, citing them only by name, without any further explanation.
- Summing up by Defence: previous good character etc., describing me correctly as a pacifist. Wrongfully said that I had previously been on many peace demonstrations without trouble. In fact I rarely ever go on any kind of demonstration (as they tend to be no more than futile gestures). She may have given the erroneous impression that I am some kind of serial protestor.
- Sheriff said 2 charges ('face covered' & 'placed the lieges in a state of fear & alarm') were dropped but I was still guilty of Breach of the Peace. She conceded it was my first offence.Case adjourned for Social Enquiry Reports. Bail was granted. I am to attend on 19th September at 9.30am for sentencing.
[Please excuse any typos & deficiencies of style. These notes were rapidly compiled & pressure of time necessitates omissions of details etc. I may be able to add to & revise it later.]
There were definite elements of theatre, nay, archaic ritual, in this 'Show Trial'. The Sheriff wore a rather fetching if somewhat antiquated wig & was accorded the most exaggerated deference, addressed throughout as 'Milady'. It was 'yes Milady, no Milady, 3 bags full Milady'. O what a tedious rigmarole of shibboleths & legalese. Everyone had to stand & the legal bods even bowed their heads in abject obeisance when Milady Panjandrum Drama Queen par excellence made her grand entrance & exit...
During early September I had a compulsory interview with a Probation Officer. (It should have been a qualified Social Worker & I should have been given an explanatory leaflet before the interview, but I had to let that pass...)
I asserted myself slightly by insisting he would have to make a home visit, instead of my going to him. I also told him I would record the interview to protect myself, as I had already been the victim of police perjury.
The Prob. Off. admitted that he usually only dealt with people who pleaded guilty.
He explained that sentence had to be both a punishment for me & a deterrent for the public.
The options were: custodial sentence, electronic tagging, fine, conditional discharge.
He seemed to take a sadistic relish in describing the details of electronic tagging. As he repeated them twice, I feared that was his preferred penalty.
What a shame flogging and/or the stocks are no longer options...
Prob. Off. gave the impression of another petty tyrant flaunting his tiny portion of power.
I was subjected to a barrage of information meant to intimidate. When I attempted to interject a few comments of my own, Prob. Off. got up & threatened to leave. I had to try to placate him as his report would probably have a considerable measure of influence with the Sheriff.
On 19th September 2006, I was back up in Edinburgh for the dreaded sentence. It was possible that I would be sent to prison for 3 months.
I wore my best white shirt, symbolic of innocence.
Perhaps that's what swung it.
Or perhaps the Sheriff was in a good mood or had just put on a new HRT patch (I don't wish to be sexist but she was a woman of a certain age & due, arguably overdue, for retirement).
Maybe she realized my conviction had been a borderline case, with the threshold for Breach of the Peace considerably lowered.
Whatever the reason, the good Sheriff decided to hand out the most lenient sentence possible:
Imagine my astonishment
I just received ADMONISHMENT!
Effectively no more than a warning to be on good behaviour in the future.
I won't be hung, drawn & quartered then.
Considering the extent to which I had already been punished (trauma of arrest, 29 hours in prison, and over a year of stress, uncertainty & worry etc.), that was quite enough.
I didn't get off entirely Scot-free...
I had learnt my lesson(s), viz. it's no longer safe to follow a carnival procession during a peaceful demonstration against the G8; legitimate protest is now criminalised; the police can lie with impunity; there is no true justice to be had in a British court.
You have been warned. So keep your nose clean. Try not to get arrested...
Obviously, I intend to appeal against my conviction, but, in all likelihood, my appeal will be refused. Call me a cynic.
No-one has yet been able to explain to me precisely how I exceeded my human right of Freedom of Expression (Article 10, European Convention on Human Rights).
Yes, "Someone must have been telling lies about Davy K., he knew he had done nothing wrong..."
To be exact, two policemen, whose names I can supply, told lies about me & they told those lies under oath in a court of law. Paid so-called public servants committed perjury.
There was no concrete evidence to prove my guilt beyond reasonable doubt, merely malicious and false allegations.
This is what passes for justice in Britain in 2006.
|I am a non-violent pacifist. I don't act like some lairy lager lout or boorish bovver boy trying to pick a fight. Yet I was arrested for Breach of the Peace. You know it makes sense.|
*Commentary on the charges against me (pdf)
*Analysis of police video 'evidence' (pdf)
*Refutation of police 'witness' statements (pdf)
*Request for clarification of the exact nature of my 'crime' (pdf)
To call the Law an Ass is an insult to donkies!
|'Ashamed to live in a land / Where justice is a
(Hurricane, Bob Dylan & Jacques Levy)
Another account of my trial (by an independent observer) can be found here:
|PS Positively last words on
this subject, I hope (though it obviously still rankles).
I shall wear my conviction for Breach of the Peace as a Badge of Honour. Yes, let history record that the writer Davy King was convicted of BoP during the visit of the G8 in 2005, when the War Criminals Bush & Blair came to Scotland. Let it also be known that the latter circumstance was the only reason for the massive deployment of riot police & the subsequent inordinate number of arrests made. Moreover, let it not be lost to posterity, that 2 policemen (named in the Indymedia report cited above) committed perjury in a court of law presided over by one Sheriff Poole (aka Milady). So long as the mighty Google shall reign, may the taint of corruption & disgrace forever adhere to their tarnished names. Amen.
PPS I earnestly petition the European Court to redress this blatant miscarriage of justice, an outcome as probable as pigs sprouting wings & becoming airborne...
"All my trials, Lord, soon be over"?
"I fought the Law & the Law won"?
[NB Embedded Sound requires Internet Explorer]