SOCPA – barbara tucker faces jail

Original article posted on Indymedia 30th January 2007

in the same week that John Reid faces pressure over prison overcrowding, barbara tucker, a peaceful anti-war campaigner, faces jail for breaching draconian bail conditions imposed by judge snow, banning her from entering an area within 1km of parliament.

at about 9pm 29/01/07, Barbara Tucker was arrested by two officers from charing cross police station as she stood quietly outside downing street with her large pink banner against genocide.

earlier in trafalgar square, four community support officers kept her under surveillance, and then followed her to downing street where they kept a discreet distance while she stood by the gates. the diplomatic officers ignored her, but after around fifteen minutes a police van turned up and two policemen stepped out. they opened the rear of the van before even approaching her, then came over and told her they were arresting her for breach of bail.

in a calm and dignified statement, barbara told the arresting officers that they knew she had notified the metropolitan police commissioner on 3rd march 2006 and had failed to investigate the matter. the met had not dealt with this issue in a timely manner, and the commissioner had failed to authorise as he was legally obliged to do.

she said it is not a criminal offence to say ‘stop killing the children’. she pointed out that the commissioner was now the subject of an independent police complaints commission investigation, as were the two arresting officers themselves over previous dealings with barbara, including an alleged assault on her. she asked the police to go and do their proper duties before arresting her. after barbara finished her statement, she quietly allowed the police to lead her into the back of the van, and she was driven to charing cross.

she will be held overnight, and will face court in the morning where it is likely she will be remanded to holloway prison. her solicitors will be trying to contest the bail conditions in the crown court at the earliest opportunity.

barbara has been pursued and harassed by police for more than a year over her pink banner which she wears in parliament square and outside downing street on a regular basis. at first she was told she could not join brian haw’s (then exempt) demonstration, so she sent an email notifying the police of her ongoing protest in order to comply. ever since then, although it is clear that barbara has notified, the police have failed to authorise her, and have ‘reported her for possible summons’ on more than seventy occasions.

the only case so far to have been heard in court was thrown out by district judge snow as ‘void ab initio’, and since then, police have repeatedly failed to present evidence against barbara despite countless pre-trial hearings. cases against her have been thrown out on several occasions, and one previous attempt to restrict her movements with bail conditions was also challenged and thrown out.

it seems that barbara has ‘confounded’ the law with her unorthodox notification by email of an open-ended protest “until this government goes”. police have tried various other methods to restrict her, with cases of obstruction of the highway, obstructing a police officer, and even attempts to have her sectioned under the mental health act – but still after more than a year, nothing has been proved in court.

it seems they are not sufficiently confident to simply face her in court over a ‘serious organised crime and police act’ offence, and as the months go by, the pressure on barbara has been racking up.

the bail conditions imposed today bring into stark reality the conceptual black line that artist mark wallinger drew on the floor of tate britain as part of his recreation of brian haw’s original 40 metre display which he has named ‘state britain’. although the whole of the tate actually lies outside the proscribed exclusion zone, if barbara were to step over his line, she would be breaching bail.

instead, she chose to commit her breach in the very place that her protest is about – outside the residence of tony blair. she believes it is he who should be in the dock, for the crime of genocide, not her for holding her pink banner.

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