Solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day Strike 2019

Today, for the third year running, women across the world are going on strike as part of a militant, joyful feminist international, against a world lurching towards barbarism.

With fascism on the march, emboldened by the ascent to power of far-right politics in the U.S.A, Brazil, Poland, India, and Italy, feminist movements in the past year have continued to occupy the front-line of the international fight against barbarism. Among these: the Ele Não movement against Jair Bolsonaro’s fascism in Brazil; the Marea Verde for free, safe, legal abortion in Argentina; the Keralan women who formed a 620 km long human chain to protest for equality in India, the Ni Una Menos movement across Latin America, the Ni Una di Meno movement resisting Salvini’s ‘Security law’ in Italy, and the Kurdish women’s revolution which continues to be instrumental in both the military and ideological defeat of ISIS.

Here in the UK, the past year has seen migrant women in precarious work organise strikes in London, and thousands of public sector working women on strike in Glasgow, as well as the growth of a new feminist anti-fascist movement, which in December led the march against Tommy Robinson and Fortress Britain, carrying a vast banner that read “The enemy doesn’t arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine.”

By withdrawing waged and unwaged labour today, the feminist international is making visible - and making connections between - the many forms of work women do: from the exploitative work of commodity production to the invisibilized work of social reproduction; from the struggle for bodily autonomy, to the struggle for anti-imperialist self-determination; from the fight against gender violence and femicide, to the fight against capitalist extractivism and ecocide. As the Feminist International says, this is a movement that is shaped by feminist movements in the South, and is unequivocally anti-colonial, anti-cisheterosexist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist.

It is a fight to change not only our conditions of work, but our world. In the words of Women’s strike UK: “We are not asking for our fair share under capitalism, we are seeking to destroy altogether a system that is designed to divide and oppress us.”

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers stands in full solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day strike.

We call for donations to the UK Women’s Strike Fund, to help offset the costs to women leaving work and attending strike action and women’s assemblies.

Forward comrades, to a red feminist horizon!

Solidarity Statement Following the Conviction of the Stansted 15

On Monday 10 December 2018 a group of peaceful anti-deportation activists, the Stansted 15, were convicted of offences under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, a piece of legislation introduced in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing aimed at combating international terrorism. The Stansted 15 prevented the departure of a chartered flight deporting 60 people from the UK to Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, many of whom were at risk of great harm if removed.

The charge - endangering safety at an aerodrome - carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The defendants were initially charged with the lesser offence of aggravated trespass: four months after the protest action, the prosecution amended the charge to the more serious offence of endangering the safety of an aerodrome. The decision to increase the seriousness of the charge, without any change in evidence, appears to be intended to dissuade activists from taking direct action.

Of those who would have been deported on the flight, 11 remain in the UK to have their cases heard, while some have been granted leave to remain. Among those scheduled to be on the flight were recognised survivors of trafficking and slavery who had sought protection in the United Kingdom.

It is a great injustice that it is those who have acted to save lives who have been convicted, rather than those who acted to put people at risk of death and persecution. The conviction of the Stansted 15 is a damning indictment of the Home Office and the UK Government's intolerance of criticism. Instead of reflecting on the hostile environment and what motivated the activists to take direct action, the government has subjected these brave individuals to a long and expensive trial which has treated their actions as equivalent to those of terrorists.

We express our solidarity with the Stansted 15, and all those who take action against the cruel and racist immigration policies of the British government. We support the calls of the Stansted 15 for an immediate end to deportation charter flights, and for a full independent public inquiry into the government’s ‘hostile environment’.

Solidarity Statement for the Stansted 15

The Executive Committee of the Haldane Society along with its president, Michael Mansfield QC make the following statement concerning the Stansted 15:

On 28 March 2017, 15 activists, known as the Stansted 15, physically prevented the departure of a chartered aircraft intended to deport individuals from the UK to Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It is the activists’ case that some of the people on the flight were at risk of serious harm if forcibly removed to their home country.

The coming days will see the conclusion of the trial of the Stansted 15 at Chelmsford Crown Court. Originally charged with aggravated trespass, their charges were amended to endangering safety at an aerodrome under section 1 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This law was intended to address terrorist acts and carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. The amendment of the charge risks being a politically chilling decision which dissuades activists from taking direct action; it also associates non-violent direct action with terrorist acts.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers recognises that there is a long and proud history of direct action in the UK which has preceded significant changes in the law and government policies. It is an apt time, on the 100 year anniversary of women winning the right to vote, to remember that the suffragette movement employed direct action.

In April 2018, Amber Rudd, then Home Security admitted that the Home Office used deportation targets.[1] Corporate Watch updated its report on Charter Flights and referred to evidence indicating that immigration officials target certain nationalities for removal in the lead up to a Charter Flight.[2] In June 2018, the Independent Monitoring Boards’ Charter Flight Monitoring Team expressed concern about the use of excessive restraint in Charter Flights.[3] The Independent Monitoring Board also noted that there had been no official response to their report of 2016.[4] In addition, recent government policies have been deemed to unlawfully remove people with a right to be in the UK (for example the Windrush controversy[5] and the High Court decision  finding that the removal of European nationals for rough sleeping was unlawful[6]).

In this context, we express our concern that such serious charges have been laid against the Stansted 15. We express our solidarity with the Stansted 15, and with activists everywhere who put their bodies and freedoms on the line to save others.


[1] 27 April 2018, The Guardian, Amber Rudd was sent targets for migrant removal. Leak reveals, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/27/amber-rudd-was-told-about-migrant-removal-targets-leak-reveals

[2] 2 July 2018,Corporate Watch, Deportation Charter Flights: Updated Report 2018, https://corporatewatch.org/deportation-charter-flights-updated-report-2018/ 

[3] 12 June 2018, Independent Monitoring Boards, Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Boards’ Charter Flight Monitoring Team for reporting year 2017https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/imb-prod-storage-1ocod6bqky0vo/uploads/2018/06/IMB-Charter-Flights-2017-annual-report.pdf

[4] Ibid para 2.1

[5] 18 July 2018, The Guardian, Revealed: depth of Home Office Failures on Windrush, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/18/revealed-depth-of-home-office-failures-on-windrush ; BBC News, Home Office ‘was told about Windrush Problems in 2016’, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43900697

[6] 14 December 2017, BBC News, Deporting EU Rough sleepers from UK unlawful, High Court rules, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42354864; R (On the Application of Gureckisv Secretary of State for the Home Department [2017] EWHC 3298 (Admin)

 

Haldane and COPS joint public meeting 23 June 2018

Haldane_SpyCop_A5_FRONT.jpg

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance will be hosting a joint public meeting at The Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Road, Glasgow, GS51 3UU from 11:00 am on Saturday 23 June.  The meeting will hear from activists and victims of police spying in Scotland, in particular:

  • Neil Findlay, Labour MSP, at the forefront of raising these issues in the Scottish Parliament;
  • Tilly Gifford, social justice activist bringing a judicial review against the UK and Scottish governments for their failure to act.
  • Andrea, woman activist from Police Spies Out Of Our Lives.
  • Eveline Lubbers, Undercover Research Group.

All enquiries about the event should be addressed to copsscotland@gmail.com.

Click here for tickets.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry...

In March 2015, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up an Inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers, as early as 1968, had spied on political campaigners and had used the names of dead children to create their identities they had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children. They had befriended grieving families, including the parents of Stephen Lawrence, and had acted as agents provocateurs.

…but no public inquiry in Scotland!

The undercover police operations under scrutiny by the Inquiry are limited to those conducted in England and Wales. However, much evidence has come to light demonstrating that the Metropolitan Police’s SDS had in fact operated in Scotland, and possibly without the permission of the Scottish authorities.

During the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent undercover police officers into Scotland to spy on activists, amongst these officers was known undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. Undercover officer Carlo Neri targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

However it is not just the UK government that has declined the need for a public inquiry in Scotland. Sadly, the SNP have followed suit, and following the release of the HMICS report, they have also rejected the need for Scotland to hold its own inquiry.

Legal challenge and building a campaign.

On 14 September 2017, Lord Brailsford of Edinburgh’s Court of Session agreed to grant permission for a full judicial review hearing to take place. The case brought by Tilly Gifford, a social justice activist, is important. The full hearing is due to be heard on the 19-20th July 2018. Have the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Inquiry to Scotland? Have the Scottish Government in refusing to set up its own inquiry acted unlawfully? We think so.

Whether we win this case or not – we must build a campaign to force the UK government and the Scottish government to concede to a proper inquiry. Truth and justice are demanded by trade unionists, environmentalists, women activists, blacklisted workers, and social justice campaigners!

Tell the Scottish Justice Minister: don't allow the Legal Aid Board to be swayed by politics

On 14 September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border, and as you are no doubt aware it simultaneously challenges the decision of the Scottish Government to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Scandalously the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) have refused legal aid again. Initially they refused legal aid, during the pre-permission stage because they claimed the case ‘did not have merits.’ The Court of Session then granted permission to proceed to a full Judicial Review (therefore accepting the merits of the case), now SLAB have moved the goal posts – they now claim that legal aid cannot be granted because the case must have a ‘good probability’ of success – this is a misapplication of the test, and raises the prospect that SLAB have been placed under political pressure to refuse legal aid.

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers believe not only should this Inquiry be extended to Scotland, but that this seeming politically motivated decision needs to be challenged.

Please use this e-mail form to make your complaint; fill in your name and email address, then copy the subject line and body of the email below into the relevant boxes.  You can tailor the email as you like.

UPDATE: THIS FORM HAS BEEN REMOVED AS THE CAMPAIGN HAS NOW CLOSED.

Please copy the text below into the subject box:

Legal Aid, Judicial Review, and the need for a Scottish Public Inquiry

Please copy the text below into the message box, and click submit:

Dear Mr. Matheson,

On the 14th September 2017 the Court of Session in Edinburgh agreed that permission should be granted for a judicial review in the case of Tilly Gifford v 1) UK Government and 2) Scottish Government.

The full hearing, potentially due later this year, is to determine whether the UK Government acted unlawfully in refusing to extend the terms of reference of the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) north of the border. As you are no doubt aware, the hearing will also consider the legality of the Scottish Government’s decision to refuse to set up an undercover public inquiry of its own.

Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI)

You will be aware that in March 2015, Theresa May, the then-Home Secretary, announced her intention to set up a public inquiry into undercover policing. That announcement followed major concerns that officers – as early as 1968 – had spied on political campaigners and had stolen the identities of dead children to create false identities. The officers of the ‘National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) and the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Special Demonstration Squad’ (SDS), had deceived women into forming long-term intimate relationships and had fathered children, they had befriended grieving families seeking justice – including the parents of Stephen Lawrence - spied on trade unionists and acted as agents provocateur.

It is now widely acknowledged that during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005, the Metropolitan Police sent numerous undercover officers into Scotland to spy on activists. Amongst them was Mark Kennedy who had between 2003 and 2010 infiltrated numerous campaign groups and had formed intimate relationships with women. These relationships were furthered with a considerable number of visits to Scotland. Undercover officer Carlo ‘Neri’ targeted a woman known publicly as ‘Andrea’, and had been welcomed into her Scottish family.

The Metropolitan Police have conceded that ‘relationships like these should never have happened. They were wrong and were a gross violation of personal dignity and integrity… these relationships were a violation of the women’s human rights, an abuse of police power and caused significant trauma’.

As you are aware, Tilly Gifford, a social justice campaigner based in Scotland, is bringing the Judicial Review. She was also targeted. In 2009 officers had attempted to recruit her as an informant. In return for cash Ms Gifford was asked to spy on her friends, betray her beliefs and the communities in Scotland she had been campaigning and supporting. She was threatened with prison if she did not co-operate. Ms Gifford recorded these exchanges and they later appeared in ‘the Guardian’ newspaper. The identities of those undercover officers have never been established, and it remains unclear who or why a decision was made to target Ms Gifford.

As is the case for many activists who may have been spied upon in Scotland, the answers to these questions fall outside the remit of the UCPI because it is limited to England and Wales.

Legal Aid, the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) and Independence.

SLAB initially rejected a claim for legal aid claiming the case had ‘no merits.’ After the decision of the Court of Session to accept that the case should proceed to a full Judicial Review hearing, SLAB claimed that the case must show a ‘good probability’ of success. As I am sure you are aware this is the wrong applied test. The case requires a ‘probability’ of success.

This decision appears to be running counter to access to justice. This case raises important administrative, constitutional and human rights issues. It is essential – as understood by the European Court of Human Rights – that in matters of state surveillance, which is a breach of human rights – that the state is held to account. The decision of SLAB is preventing this from taking place.

In light of the above, I call on you to:

  1. Conduct an investigation into the decision of the SLAB to refuse to grant Legal Aid;

  2. Prioritise the issues raised in this letter within the Scottish Government; and

  3. To submit a motion recommending that the Justice Committee / Parliament formally recognise the importance and sensitivity of the concerns raised in this letter in respect of possible undercover policing operations in Scotland, and crucially, the need for the SLAB to grant legal aid in order for the courts to adequately investigate and address these issues.

Without legal aid Ms Gifford will be unable to access justice, and she along with many others who were subjected to this treatment, and the wider public, will be unable to know the truth about undercover political policing that has taken place in Scotland.

Yours sincerely,

Statement on the Aftermath of the Decision to Leave the European Union

Following one of the most bruising and divisive public debates in recent memory, the British public voted to instruct the government to leave the European Union. The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, in recognition of the diversity of opinion among its members, took no official position in the debate, and we have no desire to return to the arguments that dominated the campaign.

The Haldane Society, however, notes with alarm the poisonous atmosphere in which this public debate took place, and expresses its dismay at the way that race and identity was weaponised by both Leavers and Remainers to sway public opinion. This was a campaign that saw Prime Minister David Cameron use the threat of Kent being overrun by refugees[1] to scare voters long before Nigel Farage unveiled one of the most despicable pieces of racist propaganda[2] seen in modern British political history.

Following the vote for Brexit, reports of race hate crimes have peaked at five times pre-referendum levels[3]. This comes as little surprise after an ugly and hostile campaign where the public were encouraged to blame immigrants for their problems. The Haldane Society condemns, in the strongest possible terms, all forms of xenophobia and racism. We express our solidarity with those who are facing an uncertain future and do not feel welcome in the UK (whether born in the UK or not). The Haldane Society urges its members to stand in solidarity with those who are victims of the post-referendum atmosphere.

The Haldane Society further expresses its outrage over the position of the government on the status of EU migrants currently living in the UK. Having been denied their say in the vote, many EU citizens are understandably fearful for their place in the country. Yet, rather than allay their concerns, leading figures in the government have shamefully elected to make their status a bargaining tool in future negotiations with the European Union.[4] 

The Haldane Society recognises the essential contribution that EU nationals make to public life and stands in solidarity with them. We call upon the government to give immediate effect to the expressed will of the House of Commons[5] and guarantee that those exercising their Treaty rights will have their current status and privileges protected, regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with the EU.  

The Haldane Society rejects fascism and racism both on the streets and dressed up in political discourse. We stand for the abolition of all borders and complete free movement of people.  We recognise that immigration controls are racist in themselves and that much of the inequality between nations is as a result of previous and ongoing colonialism, of which western nations such as the UK have greatly benefited. The Haldane Society will continue to campaign to fight the scapegoating of migrants and to fight for true equality as well as to put an end to the UK’s unjust and racist immigration system. 

[1] Jon Stone, “David Cameron says Calais refugee camps could move to Kent after EU exit,” The Independent, 8 February 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/migrant-refugee-camp-calais-britain-brexit-eu-exit-david-cameron-kent-a6860466.html

[2] Mark Chandler, “EU Referendum: Nigel Farage slammed over Brexit poster showing queue of migrants,” Evening Standard, 16 June 2016, available at http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/eu-referendum-nigel-farage-slammed-over-brexit-poster-showing-queue-of-migrants-a3273836.html

[3] Hayden Smith & Claire Hayhurst, “Three race hate crimes every hour since EU referendum say Met Police,” The Independent, 5 July 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-race-hate-crime-eu-referendum-met-police-a7121401.html

[4] “Brexit: Rights of EU citizens living in UK sparks row,” BBC, 4 July 2016, available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36707573

[5] Jessica Elgot, “Labour motion on EU migrants ‘right to remain’ passes Commons vote,” The Guardian, 6 July 2016, available at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/06/boris-johnson-to-back-labour-motion-on-eu-migrants

 

Challenging PREVENT

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers is one of the supporters of the PREVENT, Islamaphobia, & Civil Liberties National Conference on 4 June 2016 (London venue TBC).

Donations to support the event can be made (£5-£10 suggested) and tickets (£5 / £3 concession) can be purchased at https://challengingprevent.com/tickets/.

Conference website: www.challengingPrevent.com  

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/224013831287305/   

Short campaign video from 'Students Not Suspects': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1o_Kkv-MvM

Support the Junior Doctors Strike

On Wednesday, 9 March 2016, junior doctors are starting a 48 hour strike - the first of three further industrial actions protesting against changes to the junior doctors contracts.[1] The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers fully supports the actions of junior doctors and calls on the Government to reconsider its decision to unilaterally impose the new contracts.

The Haldane Society notes that the new contracts being forced upon junior doctors will force them to work longer hours for 30% less pay. Coupled with the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act, these changes to the NHS facilitate the privatisation of health services. This is the latest step by the Government to cut funding and working conditions in a public service and to smooth the way for privatisation.

The Haldane Society has similarly campaigned to protect legal aid against severe and excessive cuts. Over the last years, legal aid has been removed from many areas of civil law and new criminal legal aid contracts were imposed in such a deeply flawed process that they had to be withdrawn.[2] In the same way as has been seen with junior doctors, public lawyers were misrepresented as being concerned about their wages rather than the provision of public services. The Haldane Society condemns the attack on public services which extends to all sectors affecting librarians,[3] teachers,[4] and local authorities[5] amongst others. George Osborne has indicated that this is only the beginning and further cuts will be introduced in the near future.[6] 

The Haldane Society reiterates its support for junior doctors and emphasises that the challenges to cuts in public services are about more than salaries. This is about protecting our public services.

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Solidarity with the #Heathrow13

The Haldane Society continues to support the 13 Plane Stupid campaigners facing possible prison sentences for their peaceful protest against the destruction of the climate.   They are set to appear at Willesden Magistrates Court this Wednesday 24th February 2016, and we encourage all of our members to attend the solidarity protest. 

Download the leaflet.

We also encourage our members to support the ongoing campaigning work of Plane Stupid against the expansion of Heathrow, and the destruction to local communities and the global climate that it would cause

Solidarity with Plane Stupid Activists

On Monday 25 January 2016 in the trial of the Plane Stupid climate change activists the Haldane Society invites our members to attend to hear the closing arguments at Willesden Magistrates' Court

Closing submission speeches from the lawyers will be given at 10am and the judgement from the Judge will be given from 2pm.

Please join us at 2pm INSIDE the court to hear the verdict (or 10am if you would like to hear the closing speeches) and OUTSIDE the court from around 3:30pm, for a Post-Verdict demo and statement from the 13 Plane Stupid defendants.

(N.B. Please allow up to 30 mins for security checks)

Closest tube is Neasden, on the Jubilee Line.