On Thursday 23rd October, I attended the Nottingham Crown Court to hear the appeal against conviction of Henry Twigger.
On the 6th April 2008, Henry had initially painted graffiti on the Army Careers Office at the Victoria Centre, in Milton Street, Nottingham. He did so while wearing a hi-vis vest and was unmasked.
His choice of slogans included “War 4 Oil” & “Terrorists join here” on the front of the building in red paint. Since the place was last painted and decorated, CCTV equipment had been prominently installed and is capable of viewing the entire frontage. Having finished the job, and a policeman already dispatched to look into it; our hero greets the constable with a pot of red paint and a brush and invites him to view the handywork. He is arrested for criminal damage and dragged off in chains to the Bridewell Police Station.
Now, from the outset here, it is obvious that he done it, and he wasn’t sorry. Henry, a former Territorial Army Soldier says his objective was to warn the passing public and new recruits in particular about the illegal nature of the current military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the 17th July Henry was before the beak at Nottingham Magistrates Court, were he was found guilty of Criminal Damage and sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge. Additionally, Henry had been directed to pay £200 compensation for the damage done to the Recruitment Office. At the time, he said he wouldn’t be paying because: “I don’t give money to terrorist organisations” 🙂
Stop the War Activist in Nottingham Magistrates Court
Thursday’s hearing was about appealing this conviction. Appearing before Recorder WJH Harbage QC in the Crown Courts. Henry’s main plan was to point to the ‘lawful excuse’ provided for in 5.2.B. of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. http://tinyurl.com/56m264
The idea, as it is contained within a number of pieces of law, is to claim necessity or committing a crime to prevent a greater one. [see Kingsnorth & Ratcliffe power station cases] . Further, a person / fireman smashing down a door in order save a person from burning building, should not be convicted of criminal damage to the door. He said, “in this case, preventing a much greater crime that of illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further the misleading information given by recruiting offices to recruits”.
He was a bit handicapped from the start, being unrepresented. He had a witness that he proposed to call for expert views but the first part of the case was about the ineligibility of him to be an ‘expert witness’. Also, they had not submitted a report to the court 7 days before as required. He was not academic or professionally qualified. However, as Henry points out, there are few in this field that are. Mr Chris Coverdale from the Campaign to Make Wars History had turned out to assist Henry, but his evidence was disallowed.
Henry outlines his case to the court: In a civilised society the citizen has a duty to make a public stand and to bring to attention of the public, the crimes and war crimes of genocide and murder. These crimes are committed by the government, ministers and officers. By their actions, whether they know it or not, they are in support of these heinous crimes. His citizens duty was thus to inform recruits of these matters. He did so in full view and with no intention to hide his actions. Henry goes on to tell the court of magnitude of deaths and injuries sustained. A few times during his explanation, the judge holds his speech, informs him the witness box is not a soapbox, and calls him back to the criminal damages act!
Mr Timothy Achurch for the prosecution questions if this was in fact an action designed to inform the public, or, simply straight vandalism. He fails to see how the paint and graffiti are necessary in the protection of property.
In judgement, Recorder Harbage dismisses the appeal.
There is no lawful excuse in his actions. He agrees with Mr Achurch that he fails to see how the paint and graffiti are necessary in the protection of property. Further, he states that the wars are not wars of aggression.
He does not doubt his sincerity but Henry Twiggers actions were not within the defence provided for with section 5.2.B of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. There simply was not the immediate need, say described in the example of breaking down a door to rescue from fire. His actions were far more removed and there was no lawful excuse. It was in fact, he said, no more than a publicity stunt. Appeal dismissed.
Mr Achurch asks for £335 costs. Judge orders cost paid within 28 days and that the original magistrates courts sentence of 12 months conditional discharge stands. There was of course the original £200 compensation to clean off his handwork. Henry says he still can’t pay that because it ‘aids and abets’ the system he’s protesting about.
Treaty between the United States and other Powers providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy
Kellogg-Briand Pact: an international treaty providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy.
The Campaign to Make Wars History