Thank you legal team!

IssueJuly - August 2008
News by Mark Chapman

On 7 May, I represented myself at Helensburgh District Court, facing a charge of “breach of the peace” at the Faslane 365 Big Blockade, 1 October 2007.

The Procurator Fiscal (PF) said, wrongly, that I was on the road, blocking traffic. Surprisingly, the two police witnesses confirmed I wasn’t on the road.
But the PF (equivalent to Crown Prosecution Service in England/Wales and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland) was allowed to change the charge half-way through. I was allowed a “McKenzie friend” – an assistant in court to confer with, and this made it a lot easier to cross-examine the PF police witnesses.
I also had copies of their (virtually identical) statements in advance so was aware of the porkies coming up.
It was very empowering for me being able to grill the cops after a pretty painful arrest experience. We made a submission of ”no case to answer” because of the weakness of the PF arguments and after some deliberation the magistrates agreed with us.
It may have been somewhat disappointing for my three witnesses, who had travelled over from Belfast, as they had to remain out of court and then weren’t called when the case was dismissed.
The magistrate was quite sympathetic and the clerk was helpful in explaining the process of the court. The Faslane 365 legal support team advice was invaluable the whole way through – thanks, guys!

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