Wednesday 8 July 2020

I Maintain My Innocence

Four weeks after I was sentenced, I maintain my innocence, as I always will. In that full knowledge, the Probation Service has classified me as a zero risk, which can only mean one thing, as does the fact that clearly the judge agreed. I am no longer dealing with a random assembly of 12 people who either had nowhere else to be, or who had seized the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong yearning to hang, draw and quarter someone. The trained professionals are a very different breed.

Nevertheless, it must be said that the judge specifically instructed the jury to "disregard" the concept of conviction beyond reasonable doubt. That was the word used. "Disregard." The judge also failed to instruct the jury to disregard Prosecution Counsel's wholly irrelevant reference to Jonathan Aitken. And the judge failed to mention in his summation that the Prosecution character witness's central allegation against me had been withdrawn under cross-examination.

On this basis was I convicted because of a tiny number of fingerprints that might or might not have been mine or many thousands of other people's, set among a vastly larger number that could not possibly have been mine; because of alleged similarities in phraseology that proved nothing more than that both of the authors followed the news and had read Macbeth; and because of video testimony from the United States that contradicted itself, was incompatible with the Prosecution's timeline of events, and required electronic corroboration that the Prosecution entirely failed to produce.

The victim impact statement by a very well-known Durham County Councillor was laughable to anyone who had known him, as I have, for many years, and it would have collapsed completely under cross-examination, not least because it bore no resemblance to his behaviour in contesting the 2017 local elections. The other Councillor's victim impact statement also bore no resemblance to her behaviour in County Durham, and her claim deserves to be tested as to her changed behaviour in Northern Ireland, in view of her history of activism there. Contrary to both of the Councillors' victim impact statements, the Labour Party had no difficulty in fielding a full slate of candidates for Durham County Council in 2017.

The psychiatric report had confirmed that I had had no propensity to commit this or any other kind of offence, and that I still had none. Even though the Probation Service had said that I was unsuitable for unpaid work, I was sentenced to it specifically because I was not in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, a benefit that had not existed in the North East since 2013. The judge referred to the fact that I was in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance, but he neglected to mention that the Probation Service's report had recommended that I apply for Universal Credit as medically unfit for work. There appeared to have been no attention to the statements of my distinguished character witnesses.

I have paid my court costs and my victim surcharge in full, and while the Community Rehabilitation Company has been in touch, there is no unpaid work until further notice and in any case they still regard me as medically unfit for it. Once funds permitted, then there would be an appeal against both my conviction and my sentence. I am prepared to devote the rest of my life to this cause.

More immediately, between now and Thursday 6th May 2021, it is imperative that the Labour Party lose every seat on Durham County Council. I am sorry to have to say that about several old and dear friends, but here we are. Ward by ward, please vote for whoever was best placed to defeat the Labour Party. For reasons of physical health, I had already decided not to contest any further election of any kind.

The most prized trophy of all is, of course, the Leader's seat. And the need to unseat this particular Leader demonstrates the fundamental unity between the Red Wall and the Black Wall. That defeat would be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Kashmir, to Crimea, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. We would make sure of that. Armed with an impeccably local running mate in order to stop the target from slipping through, some of us know just the man to do this.

Eric Joyce once described George as having stepped beyond what was "reasonable and acceptable for Labour MPs". Any Labour electoral opponent of George's, including the present Leader of Durham County Council, has therefore been endorsed by Eric Joyce, and may look forward to being described as such. They would dance in the streets of the annexed Jordan Valley at George's election, and not least at his election against this opponent. And we would show them doing it.

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