Tuesday, October 03, 2006



Nice leisurely start today as it's the first day of the legal term and all the new boys and girls had to learn the school song, get new pencil cases, and learn how to put on their unnecessarily complicated uniforms and wigs etc. As so often happens there was a pair at the back who seemed intent on disrupting the class. "It's your own time you're wasting you know, and if this sort of behaviour persists I'll be giving the pair of you detentions!" The two desisted and class began properly. Ah well, ginger beer all round. Speaking of which, there's a disproportionate ginger contingent in court what with the intrepid pair, a brace of barristers, and assorted supporters, so in the interests of the equal representation of all interests, if you happen to be a brunette, blond, black or green haired person for peace, please do come along.

What really happened was that the prosecution continued their case: their fourth and final witness was the MoD police detective sergeant who interviewed Phil and Toby on the night following their action, at Stroud copshop. Proceeding in a northerly direction through his evidence he confirmed that their response to questioning was to read out statements they'd prepared earlier (using old washing up liquid bottles and sticky-backed plastic.) The statements are on the website www.b52two.org , and when read out in court almost caused an eruption of cheering, so do go to the website to read them if you haven't cheered recently, or if you simply feel there can't be too much cheering done generally. Perversely we're secretly hoping their effect on the prosecution will be an eruption of something far less pleasant! And there ended the lesson, and the evidence for the prosecution.

After the jury were dismissed for a long lunch, the lawyers settled down to a discussion about how much, if any, of the evidence packs Toby and Phil were carrying during the action should be given to the jury. The prosecution's fear, we assume, is that allowing jurors to consider the documents and photos T and P had amassed to communicate their rationale and intent, might cause them to be as outraged as we all should be. (Thinks... if this works out, twelve good people and true might become activists overnight!) Seriously though, everything T and P hadn't written themselves came from and is still available in the public domain, eg. newspaper articles, photos, a piece from the Ecologist magazine on the effects of depleted uranium etc. After lengthy discussions, the decision on what the jury will see has been deferred until Toby has given more evidence.

Meanwhile, Toby has been called to the stand and sworn in. Ed Rees, T and P's QC, asked Toby some questions which he answered with remarkable aplomb, given the circs. The legendary coolness of cucumbers was called to mind. This session covered some background on Toby and Phil's friendship and shared politics, and an outline of what they intended. The What and the Why was then further explained through a multimedia performance involving dance, text, and some innovative use of ceramics. OK, that's not exactly true - we couldn't get the potter's wheel through the metal detector, and the judge might have frowned on a music and movement session, so we watched a video. While the naughty boys at the back tried not to see themselves again on TV the rest of us sat rapt, watching a tape Tand P made just before their action. In this they interview each other about their reasons, their intentions, their hopes and their fears. They also include some newspaper photos which show the effects of war on people and the environment. The video lasted about 45 minutes, and is available as a dvd (see website for contact details). Speaking for the two of us writing this, we found it inspiring and moving. It shows so clearly how they arrived at the decision to take this action, after all their other efforts to prevent war. What they've done seems and is heroic, but the video shows so clearly that they're real people, coming to a difficult, scary decision in ways that are easy to identify with. What I'm trying to say is that they make it apparent that otherwise ordinary people can do the most amazing things. It's difficult to read the jurors' response, but impossible to believe that anyone could remain unaffected.

Toby's back on the stand tomorrow am. and we're off home now - more tomorrow.

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