Tuesday 22 April 2008

Mind (Plug?) the Gaps

Following the selection of the jury of 12 from 150 potential jurors, and some technical hitches the trial of R v Waheed Ali (aka Shipon Ullah), Sadeer Saleem & Mohammed Shakil at Kingston Crown Court began. The three men are accused of one charge of conspiring with the four bombers and others unknown to cause explosions between Nov 17, 2004 and July 8, 2005.

Reports emerged (BBC & Telegraph) at lunchtime on 10th April 2008 of CCTV footage from the 7th July 2005 being shown in court. The Guardian report of 10th April failed to mention CCTV, however as noted here, the fullest account of the CCTV shown in court was provided by Rachel "North" in her blog post on the evening of 10th April.

The next morning J7 submitted a FOI request to the Metropolitan Police to determine if the CCTV evidence material shown in court would be made available for public scrutiny. After all there is, to date, no CCTV or photographic evidence in the public domain showing the 4 accused in London on 7th July 2005.

Fri, 11 Apr 2008 11:42 AM
From J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign
To Neil Smith
Subject Release of 7/7 CCTV footage under FOI

Dear Mr Smith

Now that the CCTV footage from 7th July 2005 has been shown during the current trial in Kingston Crown Court can we be assured that this footage will now be released and made available to the public?

As you are undoubtedly aware, the July 7th Truth Campaign has been very concerned over the lack of evidence in the public domain since the events in London on 7/7.


J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign

Ten days later we received a response (emphasis added):
21st April 2008

Dear J7: The July 7th Truth Campaign

As you know the 7/7 trial is ongoing. It would be premature for me to release further footage under FOIA at this stage, but I feel sure that more material will become available once the trial is over.

We understand your organisation's concerns as to the lack of evidence in the public domain pre-trial. The UK judicial system demands that all accused receive a fair trial. If evidence was to be published pre-trial, potential jurors would form a pre-conception as to verdict based upon published 'evidence'. At trial, that 'evidence' may or may not be established. All the authorities, including the Police, are bound to respect the needs of the Court, therefore release of evidence pre-trial has to be subject to strict limitations. In due time I hope we will be in a position where all the public, and especially the families of those killed or injured, are fully appraised of what happened on the 7th July 2005.

Whilst we have not communicated for some time, I express the thanks of the CT Command for drawing attention to some issues in the official account that required clarification. Whilst is might not always be apparent from our replies, your scrutiny is seen as helpful rather than inconvenient.


Neil Smith
Detective Inspector
SO15 (Counter Terrorism Command)

While the response did not directly answer the question we submitted, whether the footage shown in court will be released and made available to the public, we have been told that [possibly] more material will become available once the trial is over. (Off the shelf Panorama programmes at the ready?)

Regarding the statement that 'If evidence was to be published pre-trial, potential jurors would form a pre-conception as to verdict based upon published 'evidence' - is that not what has happened in court, directed by the prosecution, without the scrutiny of the media/public at large?

Whether any media organisations are interested enough to demand the release of any of the CCTV evidence shown in court, remains to be seen. On 9th April, the Metropolitan Police released a statement to the media:
'During the trial the media may apply for material which has been relied upon by the Crown as part of its prosecution. The request will be considered by prosecuting Counsel, Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Service.

Defence counsel will be advised of the request and will have the opportunity to raise any issues with the judge, who will make a final decision on whether the material can be released.

Whether any applications have been made and/or refused remains to be seen, however to date no CCTV footage has been released to the general public, nor have any additional still photos been publicly released.

Note the acknowledgement from Detective Inspector Neil Smith of Counter Terrorism Command that J7's scrutiny of the official account, and our ongoing Freedom of Information requests endeavouring to establish the facts about what happened on 7th July 2005, are "drawing attention to some issues in the official account which require clarification" and such queries are "seen as helpful rather than inconvenient".

To date J7 have submitted many FOI requests to the Metropolitan Police with limited success in terms of requests that have resulted in the disclosure of useful information. It would be infinitely more helpful if requests for information were met with the release of the information being requested.

We would like to see the Crown Prosecution Service, the Metropolitan Police Service and the Judge/judicial system being 'helpful' to the British Public by releasing the CCTV evidence.

J7 looks forward to the release of the CCTV footage shown during the trial, and to any other evidence material, in order that further scrutiny can be carried out and the facts about what happened on 7th July 2005 can be coherently established.

Monday 14 April 2008

Latest J7 article published - Human Rights Abuses & The Demonisation of 'The Enemy' in Secret Britain

Capitalising on Terror: Human Rights Abuses & The Demonisation of 'The Enemy' in Secret Britain

Imagine a day in your life – of no particular value purely due to its sheer availability and mass quantity. Then imagine it was the last day you knew freedom.....

Imagine how it feels to stumble blindly through a closed 'court' process, unable to speak to the person who has the luxury of knowing what you don't; the grounds on which you've been taken away from everything that you knew, whilst the judge sits sighing, having the privilege of knowing exactly what the outcome will be. Imagine being arrested and thrown into jail in one country because another country has demanded your presence, conferring 'suspect' status upon you immediately. Imagine how it would feel to sit alone in a small cell day after day and year after year, knowing that you don't even have the option or means to prove your innocence beyond doubt because there is “insufficient evidence” to charge you with a crime – and because of this, knowing that the general assumption is likely to be that 'there's no smoke without fire'. Especially when there's a 'war on terror' to win.

This is the reality facing hundreds of innocent Muslims in the UK; a reality constantly ignored by the British media, especially in the current season of terror.
"The most elementary requirement of legal certainty demands that you know the case against you. And yet considerable numbers of young men, and some women, are being held in our prisons without any idea of why they are there. They are detained under yet more provisions, for the present deemed lawful, which either forbid or demand no meaningful explanation being given to the accused. The concept of secret evidence and accusations so vague and undefined as to be meaningless has now bedded down in our system of justice."

Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer, December 2007
In September 2006, Tony Blair described the “global struggle against terrorism” as being “without mercy or limit”......to see how merciless and limitless government oppression against Muslims - and potentially any of us - can be, read the latest J7 article here.