‘Occupy Eleven’ Judgement
The ‘Occupy Eleven’, arrested and charged with “obstruction of a bailiff enacting a high court writ” during the eviction of the Occupy camp at St Paul’s Cathedral, have been found guilty but were released this afternoon with conditional discharges. The judge handed out the lowest sentence possible, despite the prosecution’s calls to exclude the accused from vast swathes of London.
On leaving court the defendants released a joint statement:
“Today we the Occupy Eleven have been found guilty of intentionally obstructing high court bailiffs performing duties. We maintain our innocence. Our intentions remain the same as when we first joined Occupy: To highlight the corruption in the financial sector and the influence that sector has over our political system. That message remains as significant today as when we occupied the London Stock Exchange on the 15th October 2011. We find it odd that those highlighting the crimes of high finance are criminalised, whilst Bob Diamond and the like remain free of any type of prosecution. We are resolute and will remain committed to the cause until the real criminals are brought to justice.”
The OccupyLSX camp was cleared by bailiffs, with police assistance, in the early hours of February 28. The eleven defendants were amongst occupiers who climbed onto the camp’s kitchen shelves while the tents around them were dragged away. The eleven waved flags and chanted, remaining peaceful while police controversially cleared the church steps, carrying praying protesters away from what had been assumed to be a safe, sacred space. Bailiffs removed furniture piled up around the kitchen shelves and the ‘Occupy Eleven’ clung onto one another in an attempt to remain upright on their narrow ledge but, one by one, were pulled down by bailiffs and promptly arrested.
The defence argued that no clear warnings or instructions were given to those occupying the kitchen shelves, however the prosecution won the first round yesterday, with a District Judge declaring that there was sufficient evidence for the prosecution case to continue. The defendants returned to Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Marylebone Road this morning where the City Of London Corporation asked that year long exclusion orders from the City, Stratford and Westminister be imposed, and that the defendants each be awarded costs of £750.
This afternoon, having watched footage of the eviction and after hearing eyewitness accounts, the Judge acknowledged that the eleven were making a peaceful stand and awarded conditional discharges with no costs and no exclusions.