Judge educated at the University of Oxford; Crown Prosecutor educated at Merchant Taylor’s, Northwood; jury educated in Bristol.
Onwards and upwards!
Onwards and upwards!
Yesterday was spent with prosecution and defence summing up. Here are a few highlights.
Sir William Scrotesack QC for the prosecution:
‘The council process to deal with the statue moved glacially.’
‘You may be frustrated that you haven’t heard from Marvin Rees or the Society of Merchant Venturers. Concentrate on the evidence you have heard. That is what you try this case on.’
‘It is not a public inquiry, not about politics. It’s not about emotion but cold hard facts and, fundamentally, the rule of law.’
‘Conviction would be wholly proportionate.’
Scrotesack QC also went to great pains to explain that neither he nor the court were in any way racist. Indeed not, he’s merely a public schoolboy who knows on which side his bread is buttered and earns a fantastic living working for the racist institutions of the state.
Tom Wainwright, defending Milo Ponsford:
‘[The Colston Four] showed the world the people of Bristol are willing to stand up for what they believe in’
‘Their actions created history. History is destroyed by not telling the truth. What, if anything, really has the city lost?’
‘What value did the statue have before June 7, 2020? What historical or educational value did it have?’
‘Describing Colston as a virtuous man is a lie.’
Liam Walker, defending Sage Willoughby:
‘Sage Willoughby and each of these defendants were on the right side of history and, I submit, the right side of the law.
Veneration of him [Colston] was an act of abuse and celebrated the achievements of a racist mass murderer.”
‘His actions cannot be categorised as a violent act’
‘[The statue] was itself an offence. Over more than 30 years nothing was done.’
‘The erection of the statue was an attempt to erase history. History cannot be erased but history can be confronted.’
Blinne Ni Ghralaigh defending Rhian Graham:
‘Rhian acted in response to what she saw as a crime of the statue being on display and the abject failure of the council’s duty to remove the statue.’
‘Democracy had broken down around that statue. Cleo Lake said it “was embarrassing that these defendants are in the box.”’
‘This is not bristol: we will not dress up a devil in angels robes.’
‘[The statue was an] obscene glorification’
Raj Chada, defending Jake Skuse:
‘The Council should be on trial. They could have acted. They had a very long time to sort this out.’‘
How dare the council turn up as a witness for the prosecution in this trial.’
‘Jake Skuse showed ‘unvarnished honesty’ in admitting to the jury it was his idea to roll the statue to the harbourside.’
‘Jake Skuse in his own inimitable style said ‘fuck off’ to the statue.’
Today the judge will attempt a summing up of the issues for jury before they retire to consider a verdict.
With hapless clown Crown Prosecutor Sir William Scrotesack QC back home and being comforted by nanny yesterday evening after completing a turgid prosecution case characterised by a conveyor belt into the witness box of awful white male careerists earning a good salary from propping up establishment racism, court returned today.
To sum up the Crown Prosecution case: they spent three days proving the defendants had pulled down the statue, which they have admitted anyway and then pointed and said, “ooh look, they broke a bit of pavement”.
The defence case continued today with a definite frisson of early morning excitement at news that there would be a bit of b-list celeb TV glamour in the shape of historian David Olusuga appearing as a witness.
However, first up was defendant Sage Willoughby continuing his testimony from yesterday. and what a rousing performance he gave. Providing an outline of the difference between what we consider justice in Bristol and the dead hand of British law as practised in our courts and by those spiritual (if not actual) descendants of slavers, the public schoolboy barristers of the Crown Prosecution Service.
“Colston was a racist and a slave trader who murdered thousands and enslaved even more. Imagine having a Hitler statue in front of a holocaust survivor, it feels similar if not worse,” Sage told the jury. Adding, “I think it was a hate crime having that statue left up there so I felt legitimate in what I was doing.”
The court heard Willoughby voluntarily handed himself into police and told them that he climbed the statue and put a rope around its neck “because it was the right thing to do”.
When asked about those unapologetically racist fuckers, the Merchant Venturers’ having contrary views to his, he told the jury they received money from slavery until 2015. He ended by describing the Colston Statue as a “hate crime” and agreed he had caused it damage “but, it had caused more damage when it was in place,” he said.
Next into the witness box for the defence was historian David Olosuga. One of only two black people on the Reverend Rees’s local History Commission until he recently quit without explanation.
David, the first black person to give evidence, provided an overview to the jury on Colston. the Merchant Venturers and the city’s role in the slave trade and detailed some of the horrors of the trade. The jury is reported to have asked for some more information about the Society of Merchant Venturers and why they have had influence over Bristol City Council. We look forward to that explanation too.
When asked if toppling the statue was an act of violence. Olusoga’s response was cut short by The Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Ded who called an afternoon break to later return and refuse to let Olusoga answer the question.
That just about concluded day four of the trial of the Four. It will continue tomorrow,
Crown Prosecutor, Sir William Scrotesack QC’s tepid case drew to an unremarkable close yesterday with another appearance from a copper.
This time we got to hear from Detective Constable Matthew Cron of Bristol CID, who led the police’s criminal damage investigation. His evidence was largely gathered from mobile phone text messages and was largely irrelevant.
Cron had seized Milo Posnford’s phone and had accessed his text messages, which showed he had contacted fellow defendant ‘W’ (Sage Willoughby) and they had discussed bringing down the statue, which tells us nothing that the pair haven’t already admitted elsewhere.
Cron’s evidence does, however, serve as a useful reminder to activists to NEVER arrange or discuss any action by text message. If Milo and Sage had done the old-fashioned thing and phoned each other, the only evidence Cron would have is the location of the two phones and the fact calls had been exchanged between the two. All just circumstantial evidence. The content of their conversation would never have been known as intercepting telecommunications requires a warrant. Accessing text messages does not.
Cron went on to say that Milo later attended a police station and agreed he had put a rope around the statue’s neck. He also told coppers having a monument to a slaver in our city centre was “disgraceful” and that Bristol City Council, who claim ownership of the statue, is run by “very racist people”.
Cron interviewed defendant Rhian Graham on July 6 last year and she confirmed that she was at the incident and helped pass ropes to others and helped pull the statue down. She told the coppers the statue was “abhorrent”.
Scrotesack QC rounded off his case with a video of a media appearance from Supt Andy “Media Tart” Bennett. Who, presumably, as the highly paid senior copper in charge on the day the statue came down was too much of a pussy to be accountable in a court of law?
Media Tart’s TV appearance showed him trying to explain why the coppers sat back, watched and did nothing on the day, despite later claiming a crime had been committed. A pretty weird approach to crime stopping and one Media Tart may have wanted to avoid publicly explaining to a jury?
The defence opened their case with Milo Ponsford’s lawyer Tom Wainwright calling his client to give evidence. Milo openly described his involvement in the necessary removal of the offensive statue, which the council had refused to do anything about and told the jury “I believe I had a lawful excuse to damage that statue, preventing further harm to the people of Bristol.”
The final business of the day saw Liam Walker, of Human rights firm Doughty Street, open the defence for Sage Willoughby, He told the jury Colston organised the genocide of 19,000 human beings and that his “wealth was built on repeated atrocity”. He also said Willoughby didn’t dispute taking the “monument to racism” down.
Tomorrow Walker will be calling celebrity historian David Olusoga. This will be the first sighting of a black person in the court after three days of listening to a variety of sad old white careerists giving prosecution evidence in exchange for continuing generous salaries and a quiet life tolerating racism.