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Joined: 31 Jul 2007
|Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:13 pm Post subject: 1983 WSRM Trial : WCCPL & Defendants' Statements
Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 5:25 pm Post subject: 1983 WSRM Trial : WCCPL & Defendants' Statements
It seems perverse to have published Dafydd Ladd's remarks and yet not represented the innocent people defending themselves in the "Conspiracy" trial. So I will now rectify that by copying out these. ( I have inserted a commentary of my own in the middle that the reader can disregard - but I felt that it was appropriate to show that it wasn't just about trying those deemed to be subversive of the UK state - unless ofcourse people are deemed to be so by their skin colour ...)
from - Y Faner Goch, Issue 14 ( winter 1983-84 )
In his summing up at the 10 week Cardiff explosives conspiracy trial the judge directed the jury " The central decision you have to make is as to the honesty of the witnesses. The main contest is between the police and the defendants."
The five defendants faced a total of 11 charges, but a guilty verdict was returned by the jury on only one count, where a defendant had provided the police with forensic evidence.
The jury rejected all the police evidence of incriminating statements ( 'verbals' ), allegedly made by the defendants while in police custody - including a confession statement which Nick Hodges successfully argued he had signed under duress.
All conspiracy charges were rejected by the jury - they recognised the political nature of the trial and re-affirmed everyone's right to hold legitimate political beliefs without facing police retribution.
POLICE CONSPIRACY ?
The credibility of the South Wales Police is on the line. Four police forces were involved in the investigations and interrogations, but the major role in this conspiracy trial was played by South Wales Police Serious Crime Squad and Special Branch. The jury clearly disbelieved police 'verbals', including a signed confession statement made under duress.
If the issues of police investigation and interrogation procedures are swept under the carpet yet again in Wales as they were after Operation Tan in 1980 we can only assume that there has been further police conspiracy.
I'd like to comment at this point that the South Wales Police have carried on employing the same procedures right up to the time that I now write, and so there have been numerous 'miscarriages' of justice eg. the "Cardiff Three" - framed by the police for the murder of Lynette White - three black men, yet witnesses had described a single white man. I myself have had to contend with the police insisting that a statement that I wrote down within an hour of a vicious assault had to be disregarded - they interviewed me and wrote the statement themselves, arguing that I wasn't capable of doing so in the manner prescribed, and were most peeved when I insisted on reading what was proffered to me to sign. The incident in question was about a vicious assault on a black man by a white man, and what I kept out of the statement and tried to bring up in court as a witness was the racist conversation conducted by the police with the other witness. The jury were instructed to disregard my attempt to bring this to their attention by the judge, who then proceeded to pronounce the black man guilty of grievous bodily harm and sentenced him to eight years. The other fact that I tried to get over to the jury was that the man being tried was in fact a third party who had attempted to stop the fight - he was not the man assaulted ( who had picked up a wrench to defend himself ) but his wiser friend who had placed himself between them and got hit by both !! This is how weird it gets in the English legal system, which is why we have got to get rid of it - all of it - and institute something that can deliver justice and prevent this kind of subversion of the laws that we think that we live by. This is the main reason that I would cite for getting out of the U.K. altogether - the need for a modern, civilised and intelligent - and hopefully incorruptible - ! - legal system. One that dovetails, I hope, into the European legal system and takes fully on board the inviolability of universal human rights.
from - Y Faner Goch, issue 14 ( winter 1983-84 )
STATEMENTS BY DEFENDANTS
On November 15th ,at Cardiff Crown Court, the four of us were found 'not guilty' on every one of 9 charges relating to conspiracy and explosions.
These very serious charges had been hanging over us for more than 16 months, including a 10 weeks long trial - the biggest and most expensive court case in Welsh legal history. Throughout this time, on many hundreds of occasions, our names were published and broadcast as the alleged perpetrators of a bombing campaign.
This publicity will, despite the verdict of the jury, blight our names for many years to come.
We trust therefore, that you will afford us this opportunity to make the following points about our ordeal and about the police and legal system which produced it.
Three of us spent between 6 months and 9 months in prison on remand, awaiting trial. Cardiff magistrates remanded us week after week on the say-so of the police, making no attempt to inquire into the strength of the allegations against us; one defendant was kept in prison for 6 months on a charge that was subsequently dropped ! During our period of prison custody, two of us lost our jobs. Yet in Britain, unlike any other EEC states, we are not automatically entitled for compensation for this scandalous injustice.
In Scotland, the State Prosecutor must bring a case to trial within 110 days of arrest and charge; under the English legal system, the state could take more than 400 days to prepare for our show trial.
The central and essential evidence against three of us was that we had supposedly 'confessed' our part in terrorist activities to police officers in the police station - by word of mouth only, having written and signed nothing. We have always denied making such incriminating remarks.
This use of 'verbals' - unsigned, unsubstantiated police accounts of alleged interviews - has been condemned by every professional legal body for decades. As in some American states and European countries, 'verbals' should not be admissable as evidence in court - unless they can be confirmed by a tape recording of the interview or the presence of a suspect's solicitor there.
A major element in the evidence against one defendant was the alleged 'discovery' of a chemical at his house. The defendant has always claimed that this substance was 'planted' in his home by the police.
Police searches in serious case should take place in the presence of a solicitor. The current system, under which magistrates have scattered search warrants around like confetti, must be reformed.
4. POLICE CUSTODY
Most of our court case boiled down to a single question for the jury: " Do you believe the police accounts of what was said and done when the defendants were in the police station or do you tend to agree with the defendants' version of these events ? "
All of us insist that we were 'verbalised', offered deals, and threatened; two of us maintain that we were physically assaulted; one of us was brutalised into signing a false confession. The jury did not accept the police accounts of supposed interviews, nor did they accept the signed confession as true and voluntary.
In future there must be safeguards for people in police custody. Immediate access to a solicitor, and the right of ( for example ) Police Authority members to inspect police stations unannounced would be a start.
Conspiracy charges are notorious for their use in Britain - especially Wales - against political and trade union dissidents. They are a substitute for real evidence of criminal activity. They permit the Prosecution to introduce all sorts of prejudical matter into a trial - as was an abundant feature of this trial.
In his summing-up, Judge Farquharson told the jury that if they accepted the Defence case they the jurors would be agreeing that numerous - and very senior - officers from four different police forces had conspired to fabricate evidence - on a massive scale. So who conspired against whom ? We let the jury's verdicts answer that question.
6. TRIAL BY JURY
Had we been tried in Northern Ireland, all of us would undoubtedly been found guilty in a non-jury Diplock court. As it was, we had the protection of trial by jury. Even then, considering how enormous are the powers and resources of the state, justice is not certain. We were fortunate to have twelve courageous and independant-minded people to weigh up the 'evidence' against us.
But there are moves afoot to abolish trial by jury in at least some cases in Britain. Indeed, during our trial a Lord Justice in the Appeal Court delivered a speech in Cardiff in which he dwelt upon the alleged 'burdens', 'inadequacies' and even 'injustices' of the jury system.
7. AN INQUIRY
Following the verdicts on our case, an internal police inquiry is taking place into our allegations against the police. We have no faith that such an inquiry can be sufficiently impartial in its considerations and ruthless in its conclusions. Our allegations are very serious ones : we would not in all fairness expect any police officer - however honest and forthright - to find 20 fellow-officers ( up to the rank of Chief Superintendant ) guilty of conspiracy, fabrication, forgery, perjury, physical assault, making threats and inducements etc.,etc.
Those are our charges, which we are prepared to argue and substantiate in front of any inquiry even a one-sided police one. But the truth and justice would be better served by a more independant inquiry such as one established by the Home Office or the Welsh Campaign for Civil and Political Liberties.
8. THE MASS MEDIA
Outside Wales, our trial and tribulations have received almost no publicity whatsoever. Despite the recent history of police swoops, mass arrests, frequent Special Branch intimidation and surveillance of protests and pickets outside police stations in Wales, culminating in this disgraceful show trial, these events and the issues raised by them have been ignored by the London-based 'British' newspapers, television and radio services.
Had this police persecution and show trial occurred in the Soviet Bloc, the publicity throughout Britain would have been enormous. Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Reagan would have denounced this hounding of political dissidents, the fabricated evidence, the KGB methods, the political charges, imprisonment without trial and so on. But when it happens here, all we have in the freedom-loving British mass-media is...Silence.
We were arrested - on this and other occasions - because of our political views and activities. Our political and civil rights have been upheld by a brave jury. We remain what we have always been - Socialists and Welsh Patriots.
The British State has become more openly oppressive in its treatment of political dissidents in recent years. The Police and Criminal Evidence Bill should be seen in this context. We urge all people who treasure democratic rights to rally to their defence, to support the political and civil liberties organisations which give priority to this crucial struggle.
(signed by - )
DAVID BURNS - ROBERT GRIFFITHS - NICHOLAS HODGES - ADRIAN STONE
( - of the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement )
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