Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thursday November 9th

This morning’s notes are taken by BNP Press Officer Dr. Phil Edwards. Nick is having the final day off, simply sitting in the witness box next to Mark and following every word without having to scribble down notes.

10.45 - jury came in - Mr King commenced by saying "they are not here to defend a Party, but the right of the defendant to speak his views as long as they don't break the law.

"NG is on trial for a criminal offence - for words, not actions, not behaviour. We must not criminalise words."

Mr King said the European Human Rights convention enshrines a "golden principle" i.e. free speech - art 10 [which he read out to the jury]. He says that he makes no apology for repeating what his learned friend Lawson-Rogers said the day before, because these points about free speech are so fundamental.

He quoted a senior Judge - Lord Seddon who in 1999 had said that free speech should include the irritable, the offensive etc.

The European court of Human Rights says that freedom of expression applies to ideas which offend, shock and disturb.

It is accepted that it is necessary to establish restrictions, but they are to be very strictly limited.

Mr King said we cannot take NG's speech and look at odd words - so look at the speech as a whole, not just words in order to misinterpret the speech.

He said the Jury must have NO DOUBT about NG's meaning, adding " NG is NOT an advocate of the bomb or the bullet, but the ballot box. He is raising issues of concern to an audience who feel left out of the political process, providing a democratic outlet for frustration".

The prosecution must establish "racial hatred" - will be difficult to do. The speech is trying to show the evil [or was the word "effect"?]of the Islamic faith as it bears on Asians in the

To say it was a "cloak" to hide a desire to whip up racial hatred was "absurd".

This is a private speech of a politician.

It was shown to 4.5m people by the BBC but NG did not know that at the time. Neither did NG use notes and the prosecution are "too analytical" of the speech. It is not a legal document capable of detailed analysis.

Mr King went on to say that the BNP is a lawful, legitimate political party.

NG is on trial for one speech only, and NOT for applauding Mark Collett's speech. Whether he applauded or not is irrelevant.

The jury have to decide if the words of NG were likely to stir up racial hatred adding "the proof of the pudding." i.e. what did happen as a result of this speech? Despite the passage of time, i.e. 2 years, the Crown has NO evidence of any incidence of disorder of any kind attributed to this speech.

NB: Must be precise in respect of the charge ie NOT a charge about speaking about RACIAL matters, the speech WAS an attack on multiculturalism and the problems of "white" people. Just because NG voices fears of "white" community does NOT equal racial hatred.

We may or may not like a person's opinion, but does not turn it into a race hate issue.

Everyone - and politicians - are terrified about discussing issues "which are on everyone's lips" - Political Correctness.

NG refers to "white" but this is not race hate - describing as a matter of fact the background, ethnicity, is NOT a criminal offence - the media do it regularly..

He says how he turned the TV on in his hotel room last evening and watched the coverage of the Kriss Donald murder trial - for the first time the media spoke of a "racial" attack by "Asians" - but you would not accuse the media of whipping up racism, said Mr King..

He added "Look at the speech as a whole, not cherry picking - it is not a critical academic thesis. Any fair reading of the speech would be the speech of a politician, to put over a political proposition".

He then moves through the speech itself. It is about a serious issue, the grooming and rape of children, and NG makes his comments about this important issue in good faith.

Mr Griffin makes a link between the Koran and the behaviour of the groomers. Then NG develops the Koranic theme. clearly none of this is capable of breaking a law against racial hatred.

He points out that here's nothing in the speech which says "go out and do something nasty to the opposition."

"Paki" is not a "bad" word. This is shown clearly by the evidence.

Mr King then said to the jury: "you might think multiracialism is good, but that's not what I'm here to defend, just the right of NG to debate it.

He then said it crucial to give weight to Nick’s comment towards the end of his speech that "It’s not a racial thing in a town like this, it's a cultural, a religious thing"

The whole speech, our campaign and the election were, he concluded, an archetypal example of democracy in action. This is what politicians are supposed to do, and it would be wholly wrong to convict his client for doing it.

The Judge then summed up by stating that his directions of law must be followed and accepted by the jury. There must be a logical weighing of the evidence leading to a logical conclusion and no speculation. The Jury must be SURE they are guilty. He also directed them to judge the overall effect of the speeches and not individual words. There was no room for bias or prejudice about politics.

He judge also repeated the points that free speech must include unpleasant, unpalatable views and duties not to abuse those rights, whatever their race, and however their [the BNP] views are.

[Subsequent note from Nick Griffin:

Tim King’s speech was in parts very similar to the one he made last time, though obviously slightly shorter on account of having to defend only one speech instead of two.

He was clearly more comfortable dealing with my strident criticism of Islam than he was last time with my comments about the disparity between the treatment of white and non-white victims of racist crime. He defended my right to say those things (so well that I was acquitted on those counts back in January) but not with the passion that he brought to bear this time.

One of the solicitors from Messrs Brian Jackson’s (the unsung heroes of this case, it’s always the barristers who get the glory, but they’re nothing without the solicitors) told me before we left court that this was probably the finest closing speech she has ever heard Mr. King make.

I can believe it, for it was a mesmerising performance. The cause of British freedom was served exceptionally well by our entire legal team. Admittedly, like Mr. Jameson, they were at one level merely doing the job for which they were paid by the unfortunate taxpayers, but this was a heart and soul defence and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

One other thing worth mentioning was a strange incident at the start of this morning’s proceedings. I had walked into the court proper before I realised that I still had my laptop bag over my shoulder.

I was of course barred by the judge from having my laptop earlier in the trial – the point at which the ’til then daily blog stopped – after the prosecution launched a petty ambush just before I was due to start my stint in the witness box.

Their complaint – justified as it happens – was that I had speculated on the possibility of one juror being a leftist, and had referred to Mark and Mr. Jameson verbally circling each other like a pair of weasels (Mark in the witness box, you will remember, had accused Mr. J. of being a weasel), something which was felt could prejudice Mark’s case.

I told Tim King that I had already taken steps to shut the blog down for the duration of the trial, thereby avoiding the judge so ordering in any case, but he also denied me the chance to keep on making laptop notes, hence the delay in posting this blog post-trial as everything had to be typed up from various peoples’ hand-written notes.

Accordingly, when I remembered the bag I leant over the smoked glass screen at the point where Jackie had sat throughout the trial in order to pass it to her. In haste, I put the bag over before my own head, with the result that I thrust the thing over not to her as expected, but on top of a rather startled Weyman Bennett. Bennett is I believe clearly a refugee from the destruction of Sauron’s forces at Mordor, but has disguised himself as a spokesperson for Unite Against Fascism.

I retrieved the laptop and passed it to Jackie, who had been forced to sit in front of the hate-filled creature and a delicately featured youth from Liverpool University who was there to hold his hand and – no doubt – to see if they could bring in a bigger squad of juvenile would-be thugs to kick off when the verdict came through.

The position was put right after the next break, when the two found themselves screened from our relatives by members of our security team, and later on kept out of court altogether by a relay of BNP supporters who came in from the demo outside to keep our places in the queue outside the court on the occasions when we went down to the canteen]

12:09 Simon Darby’s notes:

Judge enters courtroom 8. Public gallery once again packed with Usher having to remove people wanting to sit on the floor.

Judge emphasises that the prosecution case was short and that no live witnesses had been called. "Take into account the arguments made to you by counsel" he urges – that has to be good for Nick and Mark.

"The cardinal principle of law is for the prosecution to prove the case - the burden of proof is with the prosecution. You must be sure - if you are less than sure you must find them not guilty".

"Consider the speeches in their entirety, not just odd phrases.

The judge then described how the jury should deal with each of the six counts and emphasised that religious groups were not covered by any of the indictments. He stated that Mark Collett was a man of good character and that this supported his credibility as a witness.

"You must not hold the fact that both men refused to answer police questions against them - they were perfectly entitled not to".

"This case was not about the politics of the BNP and it was a classic case requiring the good and balanced judgement of an English jury".

"We live in a democratic society which entitles people to freedom of expression”. Judge then mentioned the importance of article 10 of the European Convention and how it was entwined with English law (two specific refs 1979 and one later).

"This case is not about silencing the views of a recognised political party".

He reminded the jury that in
Bradford 80% of Muslims are Asian with the figure in Keighley being 88%.

Break for lunch.

14:10 Judge resumes his summing up:

Of the 5 speeches made by Mr Griffin only one had been brought before the court as the CPS had found them completely legitimate. He specifically invited the jury to draw inference from this. He said they were political speeches.

There is a small mention of the police intelligence report about guns in Bradford mosque. Last time the prosecution had tried to challenge Mark’s claim about this, but this time around they had thought better of it.

The jury must decide whether the speeches made by Mr Collett were attacking Asians or Asian criminals.

He goes on to refer the jury to the revised tenancy agreement which is also included in the jury bundle, [and which Mark relies upon a) to show the jury that he was telling the truth and b) – we hope – to rekindle the annoyance that some of them must have felt against our Masters at times in the past when they’ve read asylum stories in the papers] .

Mr Collett had used the word ‘cockroaches’, had only once used the term "Muslim" but he insisted that it was the white politicians he hated as they had sold us down the line.

He told the jury that "twat some Pakis" drew applause but in fact he was wrong as this was shouted during the applause. Reminded the jury of Mark’s claim that he could have been paid for by the BBC to spice it up and improve ratings. [The way in which this idiotic comment was chewed over by the prosecution so much shows very clearly why such outbursts from angry newcomers who don’t grasp what we’re about must NEVER be tolerated at any BNP meetings].

He goes on to remind them that the BNP got more votes in Dewsbury than any other party but told jury that our claim that it was a political prosecution because it was authorised by the Attorney General was wrong in that Goldsmith was called upon in all such cases in his role as head of the legal system, and would have made his decision on purely legal and not political grounds. Well, he can tell the jury that, but whether they believe that of a Labour crony is another matter!

The fact that Nick and Mark had been previously acquitted by another jury was mentioned.

Mr Griffin, he says, claims that his speech was about religion not race and was designed to stir his audience to political activity. He mentions Nick’s evidence about the man in the meeting with the older daughter being a heroin addict and his younger being groomed by Muslims. [This is good stuff for the jury, especially those who are parents]

Then he refers to the Newsnight Paxman interview in which Nick said it was a Muslim problem not an Asian problem.

The judge then stated that Nick had added that Islam gives a low status to women and in particular non-believer women. He then added that the examples of Islamic fundamentalists dealt with in the court had indeed displayed a horrendous and sickening philosophy.

He mentions Nick’s discourse into the nature of Islam, and refers to his use of the word ‘fluffy’ to describe the ‘moderate’ wing which he has said is inconsequential.

He asked the jury whether or not a large proportion of Nick's speech deals with non-inflammatory subjects temper down the effect of the speech overall.

Before sending the jury out consider its verdict, Judge Norman Jones stressed to the jury that the BNP was not on trial and that the crime the defendants stood accused of was racial, not religious, hatred.

"This is not about whether the political beliefs of the BNP are right or wrong," he told them.

"It's not about whether assertions made about Islam are right or wrong. Those are issues to be debated in different arenas."

He added: "We live in a democratic society which jealously protects the rights of its citizens to freedom of expression, to free speech.

"That does not mean it is limited to speaking only the acceptable, popular or politically correct things. It extends to the unpopular, to those which many people may find unacceptable, unpalatable and sensitive."

Stirring up racial hatred was not the same as creating racial hatred, but related to inflaming or exciting it, he added.

"This case is about allegations of the commitment of a crime."

15:44 judge finishes his summing up and two bailiffs are worn in. Their job is to keep the jurors in a safe and convenient place and to make sure that no-one speaks to them. The jury then retires and we leave the court yet again.

The summing up was very different this time around. So much so that I think that the Judge’s nose must have been seriously put out of joint at the end of the first trial when Jameson said that he had received an email from the Attorney-General that the Judge had concluded was an attempt to interfere with the proper running of his court. His comment then, that the Government “did not, yet, have such power” was cutting in the extreme, and he clearly doesn’t want to see a conviction.

He is much fairer this time, stressing several times that the jury must be absolutely sure, the law has been broken before they convict, if they are not then it must be not guilty. Particularly in Nick’s case he made a point of referring to the “very interesting” part about the struggle for justice in the 19th century and invited the jury to consider that this “tempered” the rest of the speech.

I go home as confident as I can be that both Nick and Mark will walk from court free men tomorrow – albeit perhaps with the threat of another retrial hanging over them unless the CPS see sense.

[Subsequent note from Nick Griffin:

Last time around I was unhappy with a number of the points made by the Judge in his summing up. Particularly when he dealt with the permitted restrictions on Article 10 and free speech, he laboured the idea that ethnic minorities were entitled to go about their lives without being attacked or harassed or abused. This time was significantly different.

He stressed the way in which free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, and that legitimate restrictions must therefore be interpreted very narrowly indeed. It was proper to prevent people from inciting violence against anyone else, he said, and since we had clearly not done so the implication was that what we had to say should not be silenced. He even gave as an example of the things that people (this time unspecified, with no mention of ethnic minorities) have a right to enjoy is for their children to go to school without fear.

Added together with the very considerable extra latitude that he gave me this time around when I was in the witness box, I can only conclude that his position towards us either changed as part of the general public mood swing and the shifting parameters of political debate since January, or reflected his annoyance that the CPS had refused to accept his advice at the end of the first trial that they should not hold a retrial, and his determination to ensure that the whole waste of public money and political bonus for the BNP should not be repeated again.

Occasionally the Judge refers to Mark simply as ‘Collett’, I keep a record of what he calls us, as it indicates how he views us and may well be intended as a very subtle but deliberate signal of his opinion to the jury. He uses ‘Griffin’ only once. More often it’s ‘Mr. Collett’ and it’s almost always ‘Mr. Griffin’, once even ‘Nick Griffin’, which is presumably an unintentional recognition of my high public profile, but perhaps a subconscious acceptance of legitimacy.

In any case, having heard the summings up by all the barristers and by Mr Justice Norman Jones, I was left as confident as I could be that only a totally rigged jury would convict us. I still went home that night believing that a hung jury was by far the most likely result.]