Mark and Patrick appeared in Newcastle Magistrate’s Court on Friday 7th January to answer to charges against them, to which they both answered a resounding ‘not guilty’.
Despite the cold and early morning start demonstrators who have been involved in the anti-cuts protests and the families of the HSBC 3 came to show their solidarity by protesting outside the court. They held banners reading ‘Stop Political Policing’ ‘Whose Streets? Our Streets! Defend Democratic Rights’ and ‘Defend the Right to Protest! Defend the HSBC 3!’
“I came out to support the protest because I didn’t want to see anyone getting convicted for basically doing nothing wrong. There were a lot of us who entered private businesses, which I didn’t know was a crime, but to arrest three people is victimisation and an attempt to isolate them”
Bail conditions had been imposed on Mark and Patrick not to enter the city centre unless for work. The prosecution solicitor admitted that these conditions were imposed to stop them from taking part in future demonstrations, making it clear that the conditions were a further attempt to isolate the two men and prevent them exercising their democratic rights. The prosecution wanted to extend the bail conditions until the trial date but the HSBC 3 defence solicitor successfully argued against this and the bail conditions have been dropped!
Mark and Patrick are now due to appear in court for a two day trial on 28th and 29th March 2011, and are on unconditional bail. The trial is over two days because it is a complicated area of law and because the prosecution is calling 5 to 6 police witnesses!
It is important that we effectively put forward our side of the story so if you haven’t already done so please send us your witness statements. We need statements about the demonstration itself on Saturday 18th December. The police are saying that there were only 40 to 50 people on the protest and that they issued conditions on the protest under section 12 and 14 of the public order act, saying that no one on the protest was to enter private businesses for the duration of the day otherwise they would be arrested. So even if you didn’t see the arrests please send us your witness statements detailing how many people actually took part in the protest and if you heard the police issuing any such conditions. We also need more witness statements which include details of what they saw Patrick Reay doing on the protest. The police say he was obstructing them from arresting Mark. We need statements of what actually happened.
Patrick Reay commented:
“Today has shown that any attempt by the police to deter protestors will be thwarted and will serve only to galvanize protestors as it exposes the role of the police as protectors of British capital. The bail conditions being dropped is a victory in this long struggle and shows the importance of a well organised defence campaign.”
Toby Hobbs has also been arrested in connection with the action on 18th December. He was at the court hearing protest and commented:
“It’s great to see the injustice of these arrests being challenged by such a well supported defence campaign. Today’s events prove the importance defence campaigns can play in political arrests and shows the importance of continuing this resistance and organising to support those arrested in future.”
Another demonstrator, Annie, made the point on the megaphone: “I’m sick of hearing racist comments about immigrants like ‘why are all of these immigrants coming over here’. The fact is immigrants are coming here because they are under attack from the same rich people as us. They are having their living standards attacked and so are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They are not the enemy, we have a common enemy in the government and we need to stand together.”
Thank you to everyone who has been supporting the HSBC 3 defence campaign. The dropping of the bail conditions today was a major victory, and allows Mark and Patrick a lot more freedom for their personal and political life.
The campaign will continue and will build support and strength to get these ridiculous charges dropped. We have not been isolated, we have not been deterred – we have sent a message to those in power that political policing will be apposed and that you will not stamp out the movement.
Defend One, Defend All! Defend the HSBC 3!