Convictions quashed: full report

Gandalf Magic

Good news! In a shock move on 27 March, a high court judge released three activists sentenced to 3 years each for "conspiracy to incite persons unknown to commit criminal damage" for being editors of Green Anarchist (GA) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) Supporters Group Newsletter (hence "GA aND ALF").

The three - Saxon Wood, Noel Molland & Steve Booth - had put in a standard bail application to push for an appeal date and were pleasantly surprised when Mr. Justice Sedley signed the papers for their immediate release. The three had served four and a half months of the three year sentence.

The editors were jailed for reporting the facts of direct action protests. They were sentenced under a catch-all "conspiracy" law and found guilty of inciting "persons unknown" by disseminating environmental and animal rights literature over 5 years - akin to a gagging order on journalists working in similar fields, including the Networking Newsletter.

On his release, Steve Booth said,
"I went into prison with a bar of soap, a biro and toothpaste. I came out with 4 huge bin bags of letters and books. It shows that the campaign must have been having some success. But it's not over yet. We don't know when the appeal is and it's even possible there'll be a retrial. We can't let them get away with this. The conspiracy law is so bad, it's a licence to nick people. But, they've not heard the last from me - jail is no deterrent. Thanks for all the support, letters and books. It really cheered me up and helped me through it all."

Noel Molland added,
"The judge seems to think that there are grounds to appeal the conviction. If they uphold the conviction on appeal we could go back inside. The whole freedom of speech and implied conspiracy is crazy. Maybe our release is the whole case starting to unravel and hopefully Robin [another defendant yet to be tried] will walk."


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