Wednesday Nov 7th
This is Mark’s day taking notes.
The Judge enters the court, the jury are brought in, and Nick is called back to the witness box to begin his cross examination.
Jameson begins by asking Nick if he still believes that the BNP used to be ‘racist’ but isn’t now. Nick points out that ‘racism’ is a cant Politically Correct concept invented by Leon Trotsky to demonise opponents, then goes on to confirm the question.
(He is doing this partly to ‘close the door’ on the possibility of some later implicit assertion of his ‘good character’ otherwise opening the door to the prosecution to raise the matter of his previous Race Act conviction. The prosecution worked hard to be allowed to tell the jury about this last time around, and Nick’s lawyers worked equally hard to keep it out of court. While they were successful, Nick had to remain alert to the possibility of inadvertently opening a window through which Jameson could try to reintroduce it in the course of the case).
Jameson moves on to establish the fact that the BNP does not have non-white members, and then asks if the changes and details of the party’s modern position are in the manifesto.
Nick goes through the changes in the manifesto, explaining in some detail where we stand and why. Within minutes Nick has turned the courtroom into the political arena he wanted. Fantastic! Though the Judge steps in gently to remind Nick not to make long political answers. Nick got five such warnings while in the witness box back in January, I wonder how many he’ll get this time?!
Jameson’s aim in opening this can of worms becomes clear when he refers Nick to my speech at the Reservoir Tavern. Where he’d said ‘Muslims’, I had said ‘Asians’ and the prosecution tries to use this to force Nick either into condemning me as a possible inciter of racial hatred, or into defending me in such a way as to undermine his own defence. Nick deftly avoids the pitfall but his opponent comes back to try again.
Jameson begins nitpicking about the date of the changes in the BNP, and questions why, if we really had refined much of our criticism of ‘Asian’ wrong-doing into a more accurate condemnation of things done by Muslims for religiously-inspired reasons, more hadn’t been done to get this point over internally.
Nick answers perfectly, including by pointing out that we address far more subjects than just race, immigration and Islam. He points out that such matters cover only about 10% of our manifesto, and briefly details some of the other subjects we address, mentioning for the benefit of the jury things such as our opposition to
Jameson tries again, describing the switch in emphasis from ‘Asian’ to ‘Islam’ as the great change in BNP presentation as part of our modernisation programme. Nick rebuts this, pointing out that the really important point was the change from a policy of compulsory repatriation in favour of a policy of shutting the door, ending all ‘positive discrimination’ schemes, the deportation of illegals, criminals and bogus asylum seekers, and a huge programme to encourage voluntary resettlement. Surely some members of the jury at least must agree that this all makes good sense.
Returning to our joint meeting In Keighley, Jameson makes the unfortunate slip of referring to the meeting chairman, Paul Cromie, as ‘Lee Massey’. Nick punishes him with a great shot, reminding the jury that Lee Massey wasn’t there as he was the lad who had nearly been beaten to death by Iraqi asylum seekers.
Jameson picks himself up and goes on the attack over what I said at the meeting. Nick explains that he felt that not everything I’d said was as he would have said it, or was even strictly accurate, but he says firmly that I was doing it for a good reason – seeking to win over an angry audience to peaceful political action. He also says that he believes in free speech, with the only proper limit being to stop people inciting illegal acts.
In any case, Nick responds to the idea that I was somehow in the wrong to say ‘Asian’ or that our speeches were contradictory: “Everyone else uses the word ‘Asian’. The papers, the police, the courts. Why should Nick Griffin and Mark Collett be the only people in the country who can’t use the A-word?”
We move on: Does Nick think there is a moderate majority of Muslims in
Nick says there are broadly three types of Muslims to consider in answering this. The peaceful, other-wordly Sufis, who he characterises as being so unIslamic and unusual as to be regarded as heretics and persecution targets by mainstream Islam; those he describes as ‘heritage Muslims’ – those whose religion is on a par with Mr Jameson’s when he probably buried his granny in church – and the genuine Muslims.
This latter block is in turn divided in two, between those who want it all now, like Abu Hamza, and those who are cleverer and more willing to bide their time. To be careful is not to be moderate, so the one-word answer to Jameson’s question is ‘no’.
The prosecution asks if racial violence and racial/religious intolerance is common among most young Muslims? Nick answers by recalling that some 20,000 Muslims from
“Do you accept that Islam has a strong moderate thread?” “No”.
Do you accept that there are passages in the Koran that can be misinterpreted?”
Nick explains the Islamic term ‘Nashk’, which means that the moderate - ‘fluffy’ as he puts it – verses, written while Mohammed was weak and had little support while based in
So the way in which verses are misinterpreted is to make the Koran appear softer than it really is to Muslims.
Nick states that he did several years before write to the Muslim Council of Britain to ask their ‘experts’ to explain what the verses meant, but they did not reply.
Is it a duty for a politician to try to encourage ‘moderate’ Muslims to speak out against the violent ones? Nick gives a clever answer about a fire in a theatre – if there is no fire it has always been an offence to shout ‘fire’, but when there is a real fire then the proper thing to do is to warn people, not to waste time discussing the physics and properties of fire. We have a duty to talk about problems, not one to cover them up.
There is a rustling of paper among the lawyers and at the Judge retires the jury while a matter of law is discussed. This is the production by the prosecution of a document which the prosecution say was retrieved from Nick’s computer, and about which Jameson wishes to question him. The judge and defence counsel are given copies and read through it. Nick stands impassively in the dock. An initial look of concern on his face has now been replaced by what is either amusement or contempt. My guess is that he’s worked out what the document is and isn’t in the least bit bothered.
Tim King for the defence says that having read the document he has no objection to it being used in court, provided it can be confirmed that it was indeed Nick’s. The Judge asks him if it is. Nick smiles and says that it may well be, but that he is at a disadvantage as he hasn’t been given a copy. Mr. Jameson puts this right, Nick skim reads it and confirms not just that he wrote it, but also puts a rough date on it – “July 2003”.
The jury returns at 11.41 and are given copies of the document. It is several sheets, being partly a set of layout instructions to me, then the text of a double-sided A4 leaflet entitled ‘An Open Letter to
Jameson works his way through the letter. This explains why he let Nick run amok with his explanation of the essentially extreme nature of Islam earlier in the morning, for he now draws attention to the way that Nick wrote otherwise in the open letter, which was an appeal to ‘moderates’ to explain the verses that are said to be misinterpreted by ‘extremists’.
The aim of this ambush is clearly to make the jury think that Nick is a liar, and/or that we say one thing in private and one in public. This is Mr.J. on top weaseling form.
Nick deals with it all easily. First, he says, he was simply being polite, as we English are. Furthermore, he explains that this was a leaflet and was deliberately softly worded so as to be well within the law against ‘religious hatred’ that we erroneously thought had become law back in 2001. It wasn’t just a matter of Nick avoiding trouble, he didn’t want to give repressive police forces any excuse to arrest our activists – a particular danger in places such as West Yorkshire, he says, getting in a sideways dig at Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn.
Jameson clearly thought that he’d be able to stitch Nick up with this, but he falls flat on his face. Nick rips him to shreds in an icy cool manner – it was contempt I spotted a few minutes earlier.
Jameson moves back onto the ground that Nick was cloaking his views and Nick seizes the opportunity to make a telling point: He says that, although he doesn’t approve of any laws that restrict freedom of speech beyond what is necessary to ban incitement to violence, he would still be very concerned at doing anything that could be said to incite racial hatred for the simple reason that people cannot change their race. A law, on the other hand, that prevented criticism of a bad religion could be broken because everybody had the chance to change their religion.
Jameson suggests again and again that the differences in tone between the letter and what Nick said in Keighley and in court indicates that he has some kind of hidden agenda. Nick says no, save that he wanted to lure the MCB into answering his challenge, and felt it best done by posing as naive and ill-informed. “It was a propaganda leaflet”, he says with blunt honesty, “a verbal trap.”
Also, he says, “I wanted an answer, not a fatwa,” pointing out the tendency of “these people” to issue death threats at the drop of a hat. This is a good way to reinforce his rebuttal of the prosecution claim that he is hiding behind criticism of Islam to avoid the Race Laws – hardly realistic given the fate of Theo Van Gogh and Salman Rushdie.
The fact that the MCB didn’t even bother to reply only further convinced him that their ‘moderation’ was phoney. Nick then uses the opportunity to make further propaganda points, describing the so-called ‘anti-terror’ booklet that the MCB sent to every Muslim home in the country after 7/7 (“at taxpayers’ expense, because it’s all subsidised by the government with our money” – the Judge is letting Nick get away with much more than he did in January, and it’s great to watch).
He explains how almost all the booklet was about Muslim victimhood, the rights of Muslins if arrested and so on, with only two pages being devoted to a mealy-mouthed condemnation of terrorism against ‘innocent people’. This is why, Nick says, he has given up completely on the so-called ‘moderates’. What was meant as a trap for him has given him a platform to put across views which can only influence the jury in our favour, reminding them of the carnage of 7/7, for instance, is subtle but powerful stuff.
Jameson tries to make something of the contrast between the tone of the letter/leaflet
The fact that Nick mentioned this letter earlier in the morning adds to the credibility of his answers. Jameson tells the court that he would be perfectly happy to put his own name to the letter – which is a stunning indication of how far public opinion and the debate on this subject has shifted in the last few years, since I can remember squeals in the press about how ‘extreme’ and ‘Islamophobic’ the leaflet was. If Jameson thought this was going to help his argument, he has in fact presented the man in the witness box/pulpit with a vulnerable balloon. “Splendid. Thank you, Mr. Jameson,” smiles Nick, and nearly everyone in the court bursts out laughing as another prosecution bubble is burst.
But the prosecution have clearly decided that this letter ambush is their trump card, so Jameson plays it yet again. Nick counters by saying that the letter was in some ways really nothing more or less than the kind of verbal trick that lawyers use – “like you’re trying to use against me now, Mr. Jameson” – all he wanted was an answer he could use to further his argument. He also notes that back in 2003 it was very radical. The fact that it is not now is due to a sea change in popular opinion. Is it right, muses Nick, that he should be jailed simply for being a couple of years ahead of everyone else?
The final shot of this series of exchanges comes when Nick responds to the ‘cloak’ claim. Bringing the jury’s attention back to the speech itself, he points out that, by his own admission at the very start and end of the speech, he clearly didn’t know he was being filmed, and hence had no reason whatsoever to ‘cloak’ any of his views. The prosecution argument is totally illogical. Jameson shifts from one foot to the other and moves on.
Back to attacking me. Did Nick consider my speech to be a criticism of Asians? No, I was talking about criminality in the Asian community.
But couldn’t he see that what I said could be abusive or insulting to Asians? Nick launches a blistering attack on Jameson and accuses him of being a snob. You’ve totally misunderstood the dynamics of such meetings, Nick tells him. He describes the makeup of the meeting and ridicules the idea that “middle class southern graduates” could go and ‘stir up’ a working class
People up here say worse things than Mark or I said about their mates when they’re having a laugh, Nick tells him, contrasting the commonsense world of working class Yorkshire with “Crown Prosecution World” and its upper class chatterers down in London:
“In CPS World you think it’s abusive to give someone the wrong coloured jelly babies,” jibes Nick, referring to an absurd and abortive ‘Race Hate’ case that made the front page of The Sun near the start of the trial. Everybody laughs, even the judge, and Nick presses home his advantage: “And in CPS World you think it’s sensible to spend a quarter of a million pounds trying to send someone to prison for giving someone the wrong coloured jelly babies!”
Jameson retreats and starts talking about Nick attacking Muslims. Nick corrects him, he doesn’t attack Muslims, but the evil at the heart of their faith. He doesn’t need to elaborate on what he means by that, the evidence he presented while being questioned by Mr. King yesterday was brutally conclusive.
Mr. Jameson brings us back to the “seven years” comments in Nick’s speech. The first time, Nick said it “could” land him in prison, but at the close of the speech he said “would”. Nick rips apart the attempt to make a big thing of this tiny difference. He takes Jameson and the jury to a passage in his speech where he criticised WestYorkshire police for being “politically incorrect”, when he clearly meant “Politically Correct.” Only in CPS World, he said, would so much time be wasted analysing minute textual differences from a speech that was delivered off the cuff to an audience in a pub.
Nick is asked if it wasn’t vitally important to get across to the audience that the problem in their town was Islam rather than Asians? Not at all, he says, again seeing the threat to me, the vitally important thing was to find local people willing to stand in the election and to campaign to win the political influence needed to get the problem of grooming addressed and dealt with through the democratic process.
Nick again takes Jameson, the jury and the Judge to a piece of his speech, where he said he wanted to come back in a few months time and congratulate everyone on getting candidates elected in Bradford in general and Keighley in particular. His emphasis on how he got exactly what he predicted, and that this was because he knew his audience and he knew the circumstances is convincing stuff, but earns him his second rebuke from the Judge for making political speeches. Nick apologises and then carries on doing pretty much the same.
Jameson mentions that Nick uses the word ‘Asian’ as well as ‘Muslim’ and Nick again goes on the attack. Having again defended the right to use the word, he points out that the only time he used ‘Asian’ by itself was in reported speech. It was where he was describing what the audience might think. “If the CPS transcribers weren’t semi-literate the phrase would have inverted commas around it,” he says coldly, before instructing all concerned where they should be.
The prosecution’s opening claim that he used the words interchangeably wasn’t worth a lot anyway, but now it lies in tatters.
Nick presses on. It’s hard at times to tell who is being prosecuted. He talks of the other speeches he made. Only one out of five secretly recorded is indicted. He suggests that if it had been his intention to incite hatred then he would surely have tried to do so at each meeting, and he proposes to Mr. Jameson that he is sufficiently articulate to have found the words to do so had he wished. The question answers itself.
Then he turns to the ‘likely’ charge and tears that apart too. He draws an imaginary line across the front of the witness box and says that one end represents ‘Certainly not’ and the other ‘Definitely’. He suggests that ‘likely’ must be well over towards the ‘Definitely’ side. The Judge steps in and says that he will instruct that ‘likely’ means ‘probable’, which supports Nick’s analysis.
Then Nick points out that the speech was heard by about 60 people, with by the Crown’s own admission no evidence of any disorder or problems. And that the selected, bluntest parts had been seen by 4.5 million people, again with no evidence of any incidents arising. And that the whole speech had been downloaded from our website and seen by around 20,000 people since January, again with no reported consequences.
So, given that the speech had no effect whatsoever save to help get two candidates elected in Keighley, how ‘likely’ was it that it was ever going to incite anything? Ace!
Jameson tries another tack, taking Nick back to his description of the meeting as ‘emotionally charged’. Didn’t a responsible politician have a duty to work to calm things down? Nick agrees, and says that he and I were discharging that responsibility by giving angry people a way in which to voice their concerns legitimately through the political process. We were behaving responsibly, as he has said earlier, our giving politically correct sermons as the prosecution seems to think we should have done would have solved nothing.
Again, Jameson attacks us for having used the word ‘Asian’. Nick asks him and the court to turn to a page in the blue file of defence evidence, which is a copy of an editorial from the desperately anti-white Keighley newspaper. It refers to Labour MP Ann Cryer using the words “Asian sex-ring”. “If either Mark or I had used that phrase, Mr. Jameson, you’d have been all over us like a rash,” Nick slams the unfortunate prosecutor. I feel the point goes home.
Then we come to Nick’s reference to ‘
He reminds the court of the masked youths rapping out anti-kuffar hatred while brandishing a Koran and a handgun, and says that this was precisely the sort he was talking about, and that his Keighley audience would have known exactly what he meant.
“They drive around Keighley, in fact all over
Nick throws another couple of shovelfuls on for good measure: As we’ve seen from the short clips from Edge of the City, “even the Pakis call themselves Pakis”, and it’s no surprise, because it simply means “Pure”, it isn’t capable of being an insult to them. As for white community, “pop round the Paki shop for a pint of milk” is entirely normal terminology in
Nick explains that he would not use the word himself because its use is capable of being misinterpreted by white liberals as implying things that are meant, but for all that its use is normal in the real world as carries no hatred or incitement.
Nick is asked whether, by using the word ‘white’ to describe the victims of grooming and racial attacks, he isn’t accepting that all the trouble is racial? He walks easily round this trap by stating that, yes, in Keighley the victims are indeed all white, and he’s as entitled to use the description as the police and newspapers, and it’s how his audience class themselves. So the victims are chosen on a racial basis, but the attackers’ motivation has a religious and cultural base rather than a racial one.
Mr. Jameson must realise that he’s not going to make any headway here, so at seven minutes to one to sits down. The Judge thanks Nick and tells him he may leave the witness box. That was a morning of hard work. Hard work well done.
2.10 p.m. Nick Griffin is back in the dock and taking notes again.
There is another brief legal discussion, mainly about the directions the Judge intends to give the jury. There is concern as to how best to present Mark’s good character without making it too obvious that I can’t rely on this on account of my 1997 Race Act conviction. The jury are called back in at and Mr. Jameson sums up for the Crown, with the jury members looking intently at him across the court room.
Jameson says that he won’t be long, as they’ve heard a lot from him today, or rather, they’ve seen a lot of him today – a good-humoured reference to the fact that I did the bulk of the talking this morning.
It is, he says, not a difficult case. There are just three speeches, and they need to be considered according to the law. The main complexity is in the defences.
He says the Crown accepts that our motive may well be good – to get support for legitimate political action (by stating this he effectively jettisons the ‘intent’ charges right from the beginning, although this point may be too subtle for some to pick up). the problem, he says, is in our methods.
He draws a whacky parallel: Gordon Brown can’t shoot Tony Blair and rely on the defence that “I only wanted to make sure that I took over as Prime Minister, and that’s not a crime, is it?” Hmm!
Politicians have a responsibility to be careful and positive about sensitive subjects, did we discharge that responsibility?
The real issue in Mark’s case is the question of whether, when he said what ‘the Asians’ were doing, did he confine this critique to Asian criminals or was he deliberately implying that all Asians were to blame? He says it’s easy to read the transcripts and to decide – he picks out some points and submits that “it’s pretty damn clear.”
He points out a passage from Mark’s Keighley speech about press reports from
“In the space of a week there’s always at least two rapes of girls, white girls, between the ages of fifteen and sixteen by gangs of Asians. And it’s always white girls by Asian males.”
He moves down a couple of paragraphs to where Mark points out the difference between these gang rapes of young girls and “what happens to the young white lad, where a twenty or twenty-two year old can go into a night club. There’ll be a young girl in dressed up who’s snuck in there and she’s fifteen but all dressed up and he’ll end up dating her in a totally decent way believing that she’s over sixteen or over eighteen. We’re talking about gangs of Asian males going to all white schools and soliciting white children for sex and we’re saying ‘enough is enough’ and we’re the only party saying that.”
Why did Mr. Collett use the example of a white lad, instead of saying that it could be a lone Asian lad falling for a dressed up fifteen year old instead? Mark’s ‘failure’ to produce a fantasy example is held against him.
Another piece has Mark amusing the audience by recounting how a letter in the local paper in
He moves to Mark’s second speech. There is, he says, not a lot to say, just take the thing as a whole. Then he alleges again that Mark was really seeking to attack all Asians by highlighting the wrong-doings of Asian criminals. It’s a huge leap of ‘logic’, but it sounds passably convincing – if the jury want to be convinced.
Another prosecution slip up
Jameson makes a meal of the fact that Mark’s second speech said that none of the Keighley paedophile rape gang had been jailed, when he must have heard in my first speech that I’d said that they had been. He talks of Mark’s “utter contempt for the literal truth”. It sounds good, but it’s wickedly dishonest, for Jameson knows perfectly well that the real truth is that I was mistaken, that none of that gang was in fact jailed, and that one individual had been jailed for his part in a similar but unrelated incident in the town.
He deliberately avoided raising this subject during cross-examination, as he knew we would explain the discrepancy, so now he can try to jail Mark. With the final shot being a claim that Mark’s speeches are both “overtly racist” (by which, more than anything, members of the liberal elite mean recognition that the white race exists and that white people can be victims of racism and injustice too) Jameson moves on to my speech.
He describes me as “a very different and more complex character than Mark Collett. Entertaining and engaging..” and, somewhat bizarrely, says that I’m the sort of chap the jurors may well think it would be interesting and fun to have a pint or two with one evening.
Then he begins his pitch, saying that issues of race and religion overlap and are not “hermetically separate”. While this is true in practical terms, it is untrue in legal ones, but Jameson has no choice but to use this weak argument, for it is all he really has.
Most Asians in the Keighley area, he says, are Muslims, and vice versa. I knew this, and that the audience regarded it (he squirms desperately to avoid reminding the jury of what ‘it’ is) as a racial problem. He says that I admitted this, which indeed I did, but specifically in terms of the victims, not perpetrators.
He reminds the jury to take the speech as a whole, and accepts that plenty of it is wholly unobjectionable. He cites the section about the way in which local working people organised trade unions to defend their rights in the 19th century as something which would bother no-one – “not even the thought Police that Mr Griffin seems to think I am here to represent.”
What on earth is he thinking of putting such a thought back into the minds of the jury? Is this a guilty conscience breaking to the surface, or a misjudged attempt to discount the possibility by raising it openly?
Then he mentions my open letter to Muslims, and again says that everybody there would probably sign it. But while the letter was, he says, reasonable, under cross-examination I had had to say I didn’t believe it because if I did believe that there was a significant Muslim strand and that the Koran has been misinterpreted then my speech would have been unreasonable and aimed to cause trouble.
This is Upper VI school debating society stuff, especially as it wouldn’t have been illegal to incite religious hatred even if I had been. I can see what he’s trying to get at, but several of the jurors are either bored or confused. That though may not be good, for they may miss the fact that I answered all these points under cross-examination.
If he’s got them switched off enough to overlook that then this speech is actually a fairly decent silk purse out of a rotten sow’s ear of a case. It is, of course, difficult for partisan readers to remember that Mr. Jameson is simply doing his job. O’Connor, the Crown Silk who was rapidly replaced right at the beginning of this whole persecution, was clearly ideologically motivated and unable to keep his personal anti-racist/anti-English passion under control; but Jameson I think is doing the job just because it is his job. I doubt if there is any malice there.
You can see my racial motivation, he goes on to say, by the way in which, despite describing the attackers as ‘Muslims’, I describe the victims as ‘white’ instead of as ‘Unbelievers’. Desperate stuff.
The biggest block of all to getting a conviction against me for racial hatred is a phrase in my speech: “It’s not a racial thing in a town like this, it’s a cultural, religious thing.” Jameson knows that, if the jury are fair, his case is utterly demolished by this and by my differentiation between Mr Aktar, whose door you wouldn’t canvass, and Mr. Singh, who may well vote for us.
He tries to deal with the problem by drawing the jury’s attention to the “not a racial thing” passage – he knows from last time that my defence will make a meal of it even if he doesn’t mention it – and inviting them to believe that my just making the point once wasn’t enough.
As he winds up, he throws in one very dishonest point aimed at a subconscious level, changing my phrase warning of events in the future “as the whites find their way to the sea” into “as the whites fight their way to the sea.”
Then he contrasts my blunt answers to his many probing attacks with what he terms were Mark’s ‘evasive’ responses, and effectively asks the jury to condemn us simultaneously for being either blunt or evasive. Like suspected witches thrown into the village pond we can’t win. In fact, we’re even worse off, for the CPS regards us as guilty even if we sink.
He sits down at , and I suspect that he’s glad that, come what may, this case is over for him.
The judge gives the jury a ten minute break. The summing up they’ve just heard, while intellectually and legally threadbare, sounded at least half-convincing and Mark is plunged briefly into Private Fraser mode. Since I regard the prospect of acquittal or a hung jury as a personal triumph and relief, and conviction as a political jackpot, I’m not fussed either way, so I’ve tended to take the rougher bits of the trial more in my stride than he has. I’ve been here before, but it’s undoubtedly tougher on someone much younger for whom this is a baptism of fire. I tell him to wait until he’s heard our defence barristers respond, because they’ve got much more to make their cases with than Jameson had.
Defence summing up
The jury are called back in at 3.25 and Stuart Lawson-Rogers rises to his feet to sum up Mark’s defence. He speaks in a stronger voice than Jameson, who has a tendency to speak without opening his mouth very wide and so to muffle his own points. Furthermore, the defence team sit nearer the jury, and Lawson-Rogers is a taller, more imposing figure, so straight away we have an advantage.
He calls Jameson’s effort an “eloquent speech,” but says that it presents the case as the Crown (this is lawyer-speak, I tried throughout my evidence to refer to ‘the prosecution’, so as not to lend to this Blairite Showtrial the dignity of association with the Monarchy) as they would like it to be, not as it really is.
The facts have been blown up out of all proportion, he says. The prosecution is “misconceived and inappropriate” and has totally failed to discharge its duty to prove the case. Some of the prosecution (he’s doing the same as me now) speech “lost touch with the reality of our world.” What a blistering opening! The jurors are hanging on his every word as he tells them that they have a heavy responsibility.
He reminds them that they are not sitting in judgement on the BNP. Issues of race are, he accepts, sensitive, but they must be debated. Political Correctness intends by the use of some words and the prohibition of others to prevent debate. (This is actually hardcore radical understanding and critique of PC, way above the Daily Mail level ‘PC gone mad’ stuff with which the jury will already be familiar).
“You can think what you like but be very careful when you open your mouth” is how he describes the PC assault on freedom of speech. It’s all about ‘spin’, he says, using a term which is guaranteed to prejudice 99% of people against those doing the spinning.
We all feel the pressure being applied in this case, he says, even Mr. Jameson used the phrase “tarred with the same brush” and felt the need to apologise if he was being up-PC. “Did the world collapse? Did the world stop spinning?” Brilliant!
It’s very easy to pick apart a speech in hindsight and in print, but an off the cuff political speech is not a legal document.
Cornerstone of democracy
Furthermore, free speech was a cornerstone of our democracy, but “today our rights and liberties are under attack as never before” by the Government. He cites all sorts of things, including the NuLab push for ID cards “to ‘protect us’” he sneers at their deceit and Big Brother mentality.
George Orwell appears in the courtroom “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people things that they do not want to hear.”
If you conclude that this is a political prosecution, he tells the enthralled jury, you know where to consign it. And here the State is prosecuting a legal political party over election campaign speeches.
He reminds the jury that the Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith had to give permission for this prosecution, and that charges were laid on 6th May 2005 “coincidentally or not the day after the announcement by the Prime Minister of the General Election.”
When you look at Mark Collett’s two speeches in totality, the prosecution case is simply not made out to the legitimate standard; it is just an attempt to criminalise free speech.
He moves on to talk about the European Convention on Human Rights, how it is now the law and how government and the courts are obliged to act in accord with it. He repeats what he said at the end of our January trial about Article 10, and about the very limited reasons for which free speech may legitimately be restricted. The law protects not just popular ideas that also those that offend, shock or disturb any section of the population.
Lord Justice Sedley’s binding opinion, that freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having, is quoted in full (too fast for me to write, but look back at the tail end of the January blog record to find this noble piece of English law in full). And Lawson Rogers reiterates that the jury system can still check abuse of power by the State, just as it did hundreds of years ago in the famous Quaker case cited by Sedley.
History in the making
This must be amazing stuff for someone who thought that their jury service would probably see them trying some scrote for twocking cars. The court official who told me on the quiet a day or so before that this case was history in the making certainly got it right.
The TV programme that started the case was the brainchild of people antipathetic to the BNP. Would there have been a programme at all if the comments had been made by two people not in the BNP? If not, he says, then the whole thing is political. (Superb rhetorical logic, although perhaps a little flimsy legally. Good stuff though. From time to time, he makes his points almost in a whisper, so that the jury have to lean forward and strain on his every word. He’s a showman, and this is some show.)
There were private meetings, with security to keep out people not likeminded. The recordings were obtained through devious methods and it took a year before the decision was made to prosecute. Did
Going to the primary allegation, of intention to stir up hatred, the BNP is striving to establish itself as a legitimate political party, so it is not at all in our interest to cause any kind of trouble. The real aim of the speeches is easy to see – it is to stir up political activity, and this is clear if you don’t cherry pick the speech (everyone has adopted the phrase that Mark threw at the prosecution during cross-examination in the first trial).
L-R gestures as he speaks and at 3.55 has only lost the rapt attention of a couple of the jurors for brief moments throughout this tour de force.
The Crown, he tells them, is only paying lipservice to the idea that we all have the right to discuss problems. Since 1958 and later the time of Enoch Powell, those who have criticised established policy on racial matters have been castigated as ‘racists’. But these things are big issues now “the great issues of our time, and they need to be addressed.”
Furthermore, Mark has provided samples of press coverage to show that he wasn’t making the problems up. He believed it all to be true, which goes to his intention.
“Mr Collett is criticised for the use of the word ‘Asians’. This is absolute nonsense, absolute nonsense. It is perfectly proper to use it.”
Mr Collett talks of multi-culturalism – so long approved of by our leaders. Now it is being challenged as divisive. The Government itself has provoked – deliberately – a debate about the veil. They can’t criticise the BNP for wanting to discuss it, and for recognising these issues a long time ago. The burning issues of our time.”
(What a shame that court cases aren’t televised as they are in the
Mark is not on trial for the use of inelegant language. He is not on trial for being a racist – even if he were. He was seeking to address concerns that the audience already had and trying to mobilise his listeners to political activity.
There are a wealth of unpleasant words to describe all races. You know them. Mark is not using them, but if he had wanted to stir up hatred he would have done. There is nothing racist in using the word ‘white’ to describe victims who are white.
If we had wanted hatred and violence, wouldn’t we have advertised the meetings so as to spark trouble from opponents?
Then he moves on to examine the alternative charge of ‘likely to incite racial hatred.’ The jury have to be sure that his speeches were likely or probable to incite. But his words were tested on 4.5 million people!
It is not abusive or insulting to say “A hates B”. What does ‘racial hatred’ mean? Hate is strong stuff.
He draws attention to the part of Mark’s speech where he said he didn’t hate anyone except the white politicians who have sold our people out. He had no reason to say this if it wasn’t true, and the point would tend to dampen any feelings of racial hatred that some listeners might have.
Mark did want to stir something up – enthusiasm for legitimate political action.
The case should never have come to court, and it never would have done, if it hadn’t been for politically motivated journalists at the BBC. It’s not even a borderline case, and the prosecution haven’t proven it to the necessary high standard, sure of all the components, on the basis of evidence. They should acquit his client.
Mr. Lawson-Rogers concludes at 4.25. As he sweeps his black gown to one side to sit down I find m hands quite literally move involuntarily to applaud. I stop myself in time, but later find out that a number of people in the public gallery had the same spontaneous reaction. He was very good last time, but this was outstanding. I’d be happy if that was the only defence, but we’ve still got Tim King to speak on my behalf tomorrow morning, and I am confident that he’ll be working on it tonight and will provide another barnstormer.
Mark too is happy now. If he had a tail it’d be wagging nineteen to the dozen.