Proportionality & An Inspector is Called: Week 4 of the Combe Haven 19 Trials

October 8, 2013 by combehavendefenders

The Trial 4 defendants on Hastings beach

The Trial 4 defendants on Hastings beach

‘I’m particularly mindful of what [one of the defendants] said to me a couple of days ago about [this trial] going on and on and on …’ – district judge

‘It’s people who are sitting in trees’ – defence lawyer

Week 4 of the Combe Haven 19 trials saw the re-scheduling of Trial #5 (originally due to begin on 30 September, it will now start on 28 January 2014 and run for up to two weeks) and the continuation of Trial #4. The latter – which had already run for 5 days – began again on 2 October and continued through Friday 4 October.

If Week 3‘s proceedings were a dull affair then these were reportedly duller, featuring endless legal arguments about proportionality (of both the arrests and the prosecution itself) and a marathon day-and-a-half long examination of the police inspector who made the decisions to charge the defendants.

The latter was shoe-horned in by the prosecution at the last minute – despite her having sat in the court throughout* as the officer-in-the-case (ie. a police officer who sits in the court to expedite the process, by providing documents, liaising with police witnesses etc…) – when it became apparent that proportionality was a significant issue, and that the prosecution had not (yet) called any witnesses who could address this aspect of the case.

Not arrested: two women locked-on inside a barricade at Base Camp on 16 January 2013

Not arrested: two women locked-on inside a barricade at Base Camp on 16 January 2013

For their part the defence made much of the fact that while the six defendants had all been arrested for sitting in trees, earlier tree-squatters – such as those removed during the eviction of Three Oaks camp – had not been arrested. Likewise, the two women who locked themselves on at the base of one of the trees at Base Camp and the man who occupied a tunnel (none of whom were arrested). All of this was relevant (the defence argued) to the proportionality of the arrests and prosecutions.

By Friday (4 October) the prosecution finally closed its case, and dates were set for the case’s continuation: Trial #4 will resume (and hopefully finish) on 16, 18 and 19 December. The good news is that – as with the conclusion of Trial #3 on 21-22 October – it’s the Defence’s case up next, so likely to be a good deal more interesting!

Next up: Emily’s trial in London this Friday (11 October). As ever, support is welcome at all of these trials.

* For obvious reasons witnesses are not normally permitted to sit in the court until they have given their evidence.

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