Operation Disclosure trial: one charge down…

October 17, 2013 by combehavendefenders

em westminster court

Emily at Westminster Magistrates’. Photo: Milan Rai

The Combe Haven 19 trials continued on October 11, this time in London where Emily Johns was on trial following the Operation Disclosure action at the Department for Transport (DfT) last April (see here for more background).

Emily and a number of supporters arrived at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in good time for the 10am start, only to be told that the trial might have to be adjourned to another date.

It turned out that the court file was marked ‘special jurisdiction’, meaning that the case could only be heard by a senior judge, and there was none available.  Flattering though it was that the case should be considered so serious (for which read ‘political’), Emily pointed out that she and many others had come up from Hastings and did not want the case to be adjourned.

The prosecutor approached Emily at this point, and – clearly of the opinion that she had no possible chance of prevailing in the case – suggested that she plead guilty.  Emily declined.

Fortunately, a judge was found, although not until the afternoon, meaning that the trial did not finish that day and had to be adjourned in any case.

em pretrial lunch

Pretrial lunch at Eddie’s cafe. Photo: Milan Rai

Emily was defending herself on two charges: aggravated trespass, and failing to leave land after a police officer has given an order to do so.  In order to prove the case against her, the Crown had to show that she had intended to obstruct or disrupt lawful activity, or to intimidate others in order to stop them carrying out said lawful activity.

To that end, the prosecutor claimed that she had shouted at and harassed DfT employees, and prevented them from getting into the building.  Unfortunately, although one security guard continued to insist that Emily had been “hostile, almost rude” to him (contrary to the extensive film footage shown in court, which showed Emily being nothing but polite), the case was fatally flawed by the evidence of the other witnesses.  The other security guard described Emily as ‘very joyful’, whilst both he and a police inspector testified that people were continuing to go in and out of the building throughout, with Emily doing nothing to stop them.

After such damning evidence, the judge really had no option: he declared that there was no case to answer on the charge of aggravated trespass but that the second charge should be continued.  There being no time to proceed to the defence, the trial was adjourned to 30 October, but not before the prosecutor had once again appealed to Emily to plead guilty, this time just to the second charge.  She declined.

Come to Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 30 October, 2pm, for the next thrilling episode…. Meanwhile, Trial #3 is set to resume next week in Hastings on 21 and 22 October (see here).

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