Trial Collapses in Farce As Judge Throws Out Case After 10 Minutes

We have always said that this case, and the charges brought against Ed, Dan and Simon were a joke, but today we found out exactly just how much of a joke it was. Their trial lasted for under an hour, over half of which was a recess, granted to the prosecution so that they could try to find their evidence, which they’d neglected to ensure they had.

The trial was presided over by Birmingham’s most senior Judge, who expressed confusion at the charges, and whether they were at all applicable in this case. The prosecution barrister spent about 10 minutes blustering about the history of this particular charge (which was brought in during the Miners Strike, after miners started to drop concrete blocks and bricks onto taxis taking scab workers to pits), before asking for a recess as they did not have any actual evidence to present to the court.

The recess was granted, but alas, half an hour was not enough time for the CPS to produce any evidence, and when the court was brought back into session, the Judge dismissed the case, before the Jury had even been sworn in.

The prosecuting barrister said that the evidence has been lost by police, but admitted that even if they had the evidence it would not have been a strong case anyway, and apologised to the Judge and courts for wasting their time.

It is hard to understand how the case got this far. The defendants should never have been charged in the first place, and having been charged, the case should have been dropped quickly.
Instead, the 3 defendants spent a weekend in police custody, and Ed got held on remand for a further 7 days at Winson Green prison – a decision loudly condemned at the time by civil liberties groups and Lib Dem MP John Hemming.
Ed was also suspended from his work, whilst an investigation took place. His suspension, directly related to the arrest for this action, lasted for 3 months, and ended with him being given a written warning for his actions.

And now today we have seen that the case against them was non-existent.

From the outset, it was clear that this was an attack on the right to protest in general, and on NCAFC and student activists in particular. It was a politically motivated arrest, with charges brought that cannot stick in order to make the events sound like something else. With the Judge today expressing surprise that the charge brought, of causing danger to road users, it is clear that the police and the magistrates court were acting politically, rather than because of any criminal activity.

Today has been a victory. We are going to put Freedom of Information requests to the police and CPS to find out how much this has cost the taxpayer, and the defendants are currently looking at taking legal action as well.

Letter from Politics Staff and Students to Guild

This letter was sent today from staff and student members in POLSIS to the University of Birmingham Guild of Students President:

President, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

cc. Brendan Casey
Director of Academic Services

Dear Sir,

We are writing to express our concern about the decision by the University of Birmingham Guild of Students to suspend the Guild of Students elected Vice President (Education), Edd Bauer. As political scientists and sociologists with a keen interest in democratic governance, due process and freedom of expression, we are deeply concerned about the implications of Edd Bauer’s suspension by the Guild of Students. The suspension leaves students without an elected representative in a key role. That such a decision can be made on the basis of allegations not yet made public, and prior to the conclusion of any inquiry, is contrary to widely accepted standards of due process. Therefore, we urge the Guild to reconsider this
decision.

The reasons for Mr. Bauer’s suspension from the Guild have not been made public. It is plausible to presume, however, that the suspension stemmed from his recent arrest for protest actions related to the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham. We do not presume to take a stance on the appropriate legal outcome of the case. However, as concerns Mr. Bauer’s suspension from the Guild and University, we believe that an immediate suspension, prior to
any conviction, is premature and highly problematic. The action alleged to have been taken by Mr. Bauer – unfurling a protest banner outside a political meeting – is in keeping with long traditions of individual dissent and civil disobedience in the United Kingdom, and it is by no means clear that such action is appropriately treated as a straightforward criminal matter.

As such, we believe that this risks the appearance that this Guild (and University) is an environment within which the expression of divergent and sometimes critical views are dealt with punitively. This is important not only internally, to current students and staff, but in terms of the University’s external image.

Finally, it is understood that one of the reasons for Mr. Bauer’s suspension was his involvement in organising a meeting titled ‘Defend Public Education’, which took place on Monday 3 October 2011. Signatories to this letter include past and present members
of the Department of Political Science and International Studies, both staff and students, who also attended this event and found the discussion and participation of those attending extraordinarily impressive in terms of the level of engagement, enthusiasm, courtesy and sense of civic responsibility. These are precisely the qualities that the University seeks to foster on a daily basis in its teaching. To hear that Edd Bauer has been disciplined as a result
of helping to organise this meeting is therefore of further deep concern to us.

For these reasons, we strongly urge the University of Birmingham Guild of Students to reverse its suspension of Edd Bauer.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Peter Burnham
Prof. Sarah Colvin
Prof. Ronen Palan
Prof. Peter Preston
Prof. Colin Thain
Prof. Stefan Wolff
Dr Gëzim Alpion
Dr David Bailey
Dr Stephen Bates
Dr Shelley Budgeon
Dr Jethro Butler
Dr Luis Cabrera
Dr Richard Connolly
Laurence Cooley
Dr Justin Cruickshank
Dr David Dunn
Dr Christopher Finlay
Dr Julie Gilson
Dr Jonathan Grix
Dr Felix Heiduk
Isabelle Hertner
Dr Laura Jenkins
Dr Sara Jones
Dr Peter Kerr
Dr Andrew Knopps
Dr Will Leggett
Dr José Lingna Nafafé
Dr Richard Lock-Pullan
Dr Cerwyn Moore
Dr Edward Newman
Dr David Norman
Dr Richard North
Dr Michelle Pace
Dr Adam Quinn
Dr Richard Shorten
Dr Nicola Smith
Rebecca Steinfeld
Dr Jill Steans
Dr Ben Taylor
Dr David Toke
Dr Eleni Vezirgiannidou
Dr Marco Vieira

Dr Robert Watt
Dr Dan Whisker
Dr David White
Dr Kataryna Wolczuk

Simon Furse (Open Place Guild Councillor)
Bryn Gough (POLSIS Guild Councillor)
Daniel Harrison (Chair, Birmingham Labour Students, Guild Councillor)
Leander Jones (Guild Community Action Officer)
Ma Diosa Labiste (POLSIS Staff-research student liaison committee member)
Jonna Nyman (POLSIS Staff-research student liaison committee member)
Kelly Rogers (Guild of Students Women’s Officer)
Charlotte Rowling (POLSIS staff-student liaison committee member)
Liam Stanley (POLSIS Staff-research student liaison committee member)
Olivia Whitworth (POLSIS Staff-research student liaison committee member)
Alice Swift (People and Planet Chair, Campaigning and Political Mini-forum Guild Councillor)

Fran Amery
Benedetta Balmaverde
Laura Beckmann (alumnus)
Lauren Boon
Rebecca Bridgen
Amanda Callaghan
Carmen Castrillon
Nerijus Cerniauskas
Ieva Česnulaitytė
Eleni Christodoulou
Michaela Christofi
Dr Jane Colechin (alumnus)
James Coombs
Nick Collis
Jack Copley
Lawrence Crompton
Harriet Craig
Pardeep Dhaliwal
Denitsa Dimitrova
Dan Doherty
Lina Le Flech
Daniel Galloway Green
Nancy Gray
Nicholas Hearst
Richard Higgs
Martha Hill-Cousins
Michaela Hodges
Tom Holness (alumnus)
James Hughes
Lana Khattab
Ma Diosa Labiste
Yann Lebrat
Nathan Lightman
James Ling

Darcy Luke
Jessica Mace
Martha May Smith
Bianca Moodie
Elio Di Muccio
Madie Needham
Jonna Nyman
Alex Oaten
Heather Owen
Nick McCoy
Reena Mehta
Robert Merrit-Harrison
Georgina Sophie Megan Paterson
Jake Pembroke
Nicholas Pilkington
Emily Power
Benjamin Redhead
Laura Riley
Ameilia Roberts
Jonathan Robinson
Suzannah Robinson
Jaskaran Sarkaria
Diego Scardone
Barbara Schaller
Martina Schliesserler
Saori Shibata
Liam Stanley
Dale Steanson
Hannah Vasey
Maud Wendling
Kieran Whiteside
Laura Wright
Asad Zaidi

Trial date set and bail conditions removed

The three defendants in this case appeared in court this morning for a committal hearing to set a court date and hear arguments to remove bail conditions.
Solicitors representing the defendants argued that the conditions set were disproportionate to the charge and more usually used where there is considered to be a flight risk.
The prosecution did not offer any arguments for bail conditions to remain in place, an implicit acceptance that the conditions were indeed disproportionate.
The judge decided that the defendants should be given unconditional bail, meaning that Edd no longer needs to report to a police station each day, and Daniel and Simon are allowed to enter the city centre. The residence condition has also been removed.

Also in attendance at the court were 6 police officers, there because of the solidarity demonstration at Edd’s second bail hearing, just in case something similar happened, despite the fact that no event had been arranged or advertised and Steelhouse Lane police station us just a couple of minutes walk away.  The officers were present for over an hour, which has probably cost hundreds of pounds and is another example if the over reaction to this case.

The trial date was set for 19th December.
we hope (and expect) the CPS to come to their senses and accept that there is no case to be brought. Even if they are not willing to go that far, they should drop the case as not being in the public interest to spend thousands more pounds if taxpayers money prosecuting peaceful protesters

Photos and Video from yesterdays Demo

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Birmingham Guild Reinstate the Vice President Education Mobilisation!!!

Edd Bauer was arrested on Friday the 16th of September after unfurling a banner at the liberal democrat conference saying “Traitors Not Welcome, Hate Clegg Love NCAFC”. He has been constantly fighting to defend education through grass roots campaigning which he pledged to do in his manifesto

On Tuesday 27th of September Edd Bauer was suspended as the vice president of education “indefinitely”. Stop Fees and Cuts Birmingham are calling for Edd’s reinstatement to his position with immediate effect and are calling for national mobilisation.

Please bring placards and banners and lets show Birmingham Guild of Students that the Banner didn’t bring the Guild into disrepute this illegitimate and undemocratic process of suspending a democratically elected representative is what is bringing the guild into disrepute!

This is a serious issue for student union democracy across the country – not just about edd. If student union bureaucrats get the idea that they can sack any officer they don’t agree with, then our right to campaign and elect our representatives freely is under threat.

Join the demonstration at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students from 1pm on Wednesday 12th October.
Attend and invite on the facebook event

More signatures added to call for Edd to be reinstated

More people have signed the call for Edd to be reinstated, including leaders of the Labour movement. We continue to gather signatories to the statement which you can read here.

New signatories:

John McDonnell MP

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary

Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary

Billy Hayes, CWU General Secratary

Diane Holland, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary

Simon Weller, ASLEF (train drivers’) National Organiser

Ian Hodson, BFAWU (bakers’) President

Janine Booth, London Transport representative on RMT national executive, former NUS Women’s Officer

Birmingham Against the Cuts

York Stop the Cuts

Ruby Hirsch, NUS NEC

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

Ed Maltby, Workers Liberty Students

Kingsley Abrams, Unite executive and Labour councillor in Lambeth

J Darlington, Unite British Aerospace

Tony Woodhouse, Chair of Unite Executive

Alicia McCluskey, Unite

Elaine Jones, Wirral Trades Council Vice-Chair

Rhiannon Lowton, Liverpool Hope University SU Mature Students Officer

Lani Baird, President Aberdeen College

Birmingham Green Party

Paul Brandon, National Secretary, Right to Work

Mark Campbell, UCU National Executive Commitee

Call for Edd to be re-instated signed by over 40 Sabbatical Officers

Below is a letter signed by over 40 sabbatical officers from across the country protesting against activist Edd Bauer’s arrest and suspension from his role as VP for Education at Birmingham Guild of Students.

Edd Bauer has been unilaterally suspended from his post by staff members at his students’ union.

For more information, see this statement made by Edd yesterday

Edd Bauer, vice-president for education at The University of Birmingham Guild of Students, was arrested on 16th September after unfurling a banner that protested against university fees and education cuts, at the start of the Liberal Democrat party conference.

Edd Bauer was held in Aston Police station over the weekend and from Monday the 19th of September until Monday the 26th of September in Winson Green Prison. The arrest and detention for a minor act of civil disobedience was widely criticized as repressive crimalisation of peaceful protest, especially as Edd Bauer pleaded “not guilty”.

Bauer received solidarity from many quarters including local Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming who spoke in support of his bail application in court. John Hemming said: “Whilst I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is dis-proportionate to keep him in prison any longer.”

The Birmingham University and College Union passed a motion in support of Edward Bauer. The National Union of Students intervened to help push for his release from jail. A letter signed by a number of high profile figures was published in the Guardian on Sunday 25th September, opposing the criminalisation of his peaceful protest.

Despite the wide ranging public support, the ongoing trial and his pledge of not guilty, the University of Birmingham Guild of Students – without any consultation with the Guild’s democratic bodies- has suspended Edward Bauer from his role as Vice President Education “indefinitely” and with “immediate effect”.

We call on the Guild of Students’ mangers to respect democracy in the students’ union and allow Edd Bauer to continue in work until the matter has been investigated and discussed at either a union general meeting or a student union council with all the information at hand. We do not consider any disciplinary valid unless it is done democratically by students at either a UGM or Student Union Council.

Signed:

Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary

John McDonnell MP

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary PCS

Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary

Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU

Diane Holland, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary

Ruby Hirsch, NUS NEC

Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT Officer

Kanja I Sesay, NUS Black Students Officer

Matt Bond, NUS Disabled Students NEC

Michael Chessum, NUS NEC and NCAFC

Kingsley Abrams, Unite executive and Labour councillor in Lambeth

J Darlington, Unite British Aerospace

Simon Weller, ASLEF (Train Drivers’) National Organiser

Ian Hodson, BFAWU (Bakers’) President

Tony Woodhouse, Chair of Unite Executive

Manoj Kerai, Welfare and Diversity Officer Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Dan Risdale, Vice President Education and Welfare York St John Students’ Union

Stanley Ellerby-English Activities and Development Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Ben Jackson, Education Officer, Leeds University Union

Alex Peters-Day, General Secretary, LSE Students’ Union

James Haywood, President, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Bob Sutton, Liverpool Guild of Students

Maev McDaid, Liverpool Guild of Students

Ruth Brewer, Liverpool Guild of Students

Zahid Raja, NUS Wales NEC

Andrew Tindall, Aberystwyth Students Against Cuts

Clare Solomon, Counterfire

Mike Williamson, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Sean Rillo Razcka, Vice President, University of London Union

Kelley Temple, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer

Mark Bergfeld, National Union of Students NEC

Arianna Tassinari, Co-President Welfare and Education, SOAS SU

Jade Baker, NUS Women’s Committee

Emma Kerry, NUS LGBT Committee

Alusine Alpha, Union Secretary Treasurer, University of Bradford Student Union

Izzy John, Welfare Officer, Warwick SU

Leo Boe, President, Warwick SU

Chris Luck, Democracy Officer, Warwick SU

Matthew Rogers, Societies Officer, Warwick SU

Sean Ruston, Education Officer, Warwick SU

Hannah Dee, Defend the Right to Protest

Joshi Sachdeo, Vice-Chair Birkbeck SU Executive Committee

Kai Weston, NUS LGBT Committee

James McAsh. NCAFC, Edinburgh

Daniel Lemberger Cooper, President Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Fionnuala McGoldrick, NUS LGBT Committee

Sarah Kerton, Postgraduate and Mature Students’ Officer, UMSU

Sam O’Connor, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Mark Campbell, UCU National Executive Committee

Paul Brandon, Right to Work

Birmingham Green Party

Birmingham Against the Cuts

Janine Booth, RMT

Joe Kelly, NUS LGBT Committee

Liam McNulty, Cambridge Defend Education

Morgan Wild, Cambridge University Students Union (CUSU) Education Officer

Ruth Graham, CUSU Women’s Officer

Taz Rasul, CUSU Access and Funding Officer

Hannah Paterson, Welfare Officer, UMSU

Oeiisha Williams, Education Officer, Birmingham City University Students’ Union

Lukas Slothuus – Community and Welfare Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Dante Micheaux, NUS NEC

Beth Evans, NUS LGBT Committee

York Stop the Cuts

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

Ed Maltby, Workers Liberty Students

Alicia McCluskey, Unite

Elaine Jones, Wirral Trades Council Vice-Chair

Rhiannon Lowton, Liverpool Hope University SU Mature Students Officer

Lani Baird, President Aberdeen College

Josefine Bjorkqvist, Education and Employability Officer, Aberdeen Students’ Union

Jon Narcross, Education Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Harry Horton, Finance Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Nabil Alizai, Activities Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Sarah Charlesworth, Women’s Officer, Sheffield Students’ Union
Sign the petition calling for a democratic vote here

Statement from Edd regarding his suspension from work today

Thanks so much to everyone who showed their solidarity and support for me over the last week, hearing you all on the street outside, your chanting filling the court room, was one of the most moving moments of my life.

But, unfortunately not everyone has shown solidarity to me. I came back to work this morning at the guild of students to find I have been suspended. This is a undemocratic suspension and I will continue with my work campaigning to defend education at the University of Birmingham, which continues to face grave difficulties .

The current suspension against me has been called undemocratically and unjustly before any investigation has taken place. It currently “indefinitely” bans me from using my work phone, e-mails or even entering the guild of student premises.

However, it is important we don’t lose sight of what really matters; not me keeping my job but carrying on campaigning and representing students in matters concerning their education. Being suspended massively undermines my ability to fulfil the pledges that I was elected on; ensuring that the guild organises for the NUS backed national demo on November the 9th, building the postgraduate association, reforming and empowering the student representative system.

I’m still a student at the University of Birmingham and I will continue to campaign for these causes and believe that students coming together to campaign and reform collectively are infinitely more powerful than one sabbatical officer in office can ever achieve alone.

I will willingly submit to any vote of no confidence in student council. I’ll only stop campaigning and fighting if I’m removed by the same democratic structures that put me in place.

We have let democracy in the guild slide out of the hands of students and currently the appointed; majority non- student trustee board can remove me without any vote at guild council and the current investigation against me will be reported to the trustee board not guild council for a decision.

There are three fights we now face. Firstly, the on-going campaign to defend education against fees and cuts. Secondly, the battle to democratise the guild of students and put decision making powers back into the hands of the student body. Thirdly, the battle to ensure that the decision whether I should be commended and kept on or condemned and removed is made by students at the first guild council of term, not by the unelected and unaccountable trustee board.

Myself and friends will be door knocking and petitioning all week organising campaigns to 1, defend the university against cuts 2, democratise the guild of students, every night. Join us, sign up to the phone tree, text “no fees” to 07988056967
We are meeting next Monday at 5pm in the Nuffield Learning Centre (R28 on campus map) to discuss the continued campaigning. Please spread the word.

—————-

Please support Edd by signing this petition calling for his reinstatement

You can also keep in touch with campaigning on campus by joining the Stop Fees and Cuts Birmingham Facebook Group

Ed Bauer bailed after 10 days in prison

Ed has been bailed by Birmingham Magistrates and released after 10 days in prison! Thankyou to everyone for your support and all those who attended the solidarity demonstration today! We are still very hacked off about the dis-proportionate and politicised use of criminal justice powers against Ed and now his rather harsh bail conditions. Hopefully the courts will see sense and drop the ridiculous case against all three banner droppers.

Speaking in support of his bail application in court John Hemming MP, a local Liberal Democrat member of parliament for Birmingham Yardley, said:
“Whilst I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is dis-proportionate to keep him in prison any longer.”

Outside the court over 70 people attended a ‘solidarity’ demonstration. They chanted “free ed bauer” pretty loudly, which could be heard within the court room as the hearing started. Claire Lister, a student at Birmingham University attending the demonstration, said:
“I came here to show my support for Ed being granted bail today. I’m very happy that the magistrate has seen that he is not a danger to the public and there would be no reason to continue his imprisonment for what was basically peaceful protest against the government. He is an important member of the University community and has a lot of support amongst students and staff for the stand he has taken defending our education.”

Michael Chessum, a member of the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Students, commenting on the days events said:
“It is a farce that Ed Bauer has spent over a week in prison for a banner drop, and this can be seen as part of a broader attempt, along with kettles and political charges, to muzzle and intimidate student protest. We are determined not to allow this to stop us from fighting for the right to an education and for a better society.”

There is a press release here:
There are some great pictures of the solidarity demo here (thanks Jon!)

Letter to Guardian: Arrest Threatens Right to Protest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/25/protest-students-higher-education

Edd Bauer, vice-president for education at Birmingham Guild of Students and well-known anti-cuts activist, was arrested on 16 September for suspending a banner protesting against university fees and education cuts above a public highway during the Lib Dem party conference. He was refused bail and has been held in Winson Green prison since last Monday. His detention for a minor act of civil disobedience represents yet another attempt to criminalise peaceful protest and to dissuade other young people from taking part in movements to defend education, services and jobs. At a time when prison governors are complaining that they cannot cope with the huge increase in custodial sentences after the disturbances of the summer, what purpose is served by locking up Edd Bauer?

If the objective is to frighten others, Edd’s detention has enraged and mobilised a new layer of young protesters. If the plan is to “take out” key individuals to disrupt protest movements, the result has been to give a new set of activists a crash-course in campaigning against injustice. Edd Bauer will appear in Birmingham magistrate’s court on 26 September at 3pm. We call for his release – and the right to hang our banners in peaceful protest whenever and wherever we choose.

Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya UCU NEC

Clare Short

John Smith General secretary, Musicians Union

Michael Rosen

Paul McNab Public Interest Lawyers

Mark Thomas

Michael Chessum NUS NEC and NCACF

Prof Bill Bowring

Dr Sue Blackwell Birmingham UCU

Zita Holbourne Co-chair BARAC

Daniel Guedalla Birnberg Peirce

Leslie Manasseh Deputy general secretary, Connect

Prof Alex Miller

Manuela da Costa-Fernandes NUJ Black Members Council

Prof Avtar Brah

Lorna Campbell PCS

Prof John Gabriel

Wilf Sullivan TUC

Bethany Shiner Stop Kettling Our Kids

Dr David Bailey Birmingham UCU

Dotun Alade-Odumosu GMB

Dr Sarah Amsler Campaign to Defend the Public University

Mohammad Taj Unite

Prof Les Back

Freddie Brown Prospect

Winston Phillips Bectu

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