News of the anarchist prisoner Mark Barnsley

Aug 2001

Mark Barnsley Has Been Moved from Wakefield Prison

His new address is:
Mark Barnsley WA2897 HMP Leeds 2 Gloucester Terrace Armley Leeds LS12 2TJ

Mark is currently in the Segregation Unit at HMP Leeds but in good spirits. It's likely he will stay there for one month and then be moved to another long term dispersal prison. Whilst the rules on what can/can't be sent into Mark are more relaxed at Leeds, as with HMP Wakefield, Mark has to buy all his stationary and stamps from within the prison. He always appreciates letters from supporters.

On Wednedsay 22nd August 2001 London supporters will be demonstrating outside the Home Office to protest Marks segregation. Join us at Home Office, Queen Annes Gate London SW1 ( nearest tube St James Park)

As to why Mark has finally been moved from Wakefield, we don't have a great deal of information at the moment but it is clear that they finally had enough of him. Two weeks ago whilst at Wakefield Prison Mark was segregated for "refusing to work". Then the same day was suddenly given a Good Order And Discipline (GOAD) notice saying he was "under investigation for activities likely to undermine the good order of HMP Wakefield" and would be held in segregation for 28 days. The prison would give no further details despite letters from Mark's legal team.

By strange coincidence, a few days before Mark was segregated we had asked that supporters complain to the prison about them punishing Mark for his refusal to work in the prison workshop. Also a Private Company called Hepworths Building Products which exploits prison labour at Wakefield was put under scrutiny after Mark refused to do prison work, on principle and as a wrongly convicted prisoner.

The following was printed in Schnews (a weekly radical newsletter in Britain) - FRIDAY 10th August, 2001: "Last Friday saw the first action against forced prison labour in Britain, when supporters of wrongfully jailed Mark Barnsley invaded and shut down Hepworth Building Products in Edlington, South Yorkshire. Hepworth uses prisoners at Wakefield Prison to carry out tedious work packaging their products. In return the prisoners receive a whopping £8 a week, which for a 25 hour week works out at a pocket bulging 32p an hour. Wakefield has no educational programme and the prison labour is compulsory. Mark has refused to do the work and as a result he's now being held in the notorious isolation block.

About 30 supporters invaded the site - locking the main gates and disrupting the lunchtime shift-change - quickly knocking up some leaflets on Hepworth's copier to distribute to workers with details of the company's exploits. The action disrupted the warehouse and offices for about 2 hours. The fire brigade were called to cut through the locks on the gates but turned around and departed to cheers after it was explained to them what the protest was about.

One of those involved told SchNEWS "It was only a small action, but considering it was relatively spontaneous it was a great success. There were no arrests, the workers were mostly pretty supportive (including one who actually knew Mark Barnsley from being involved in anarchist politics back in 1980s!) and seemed to know nothing of their company's involvement in prison labour." A delighted Mark Barnsley said "This is brilliant! I really hope actions against companies like this carry on; they are so easy to target on the outside and it is so inspiring to those on the inside. Prisons themselves can stand up to pressure, but the companies that profit from them can't. This is what I call real solidarity." But it's not just Hepworth who are involved in prison labour. Companies like Virgin, who get prisoners in Lewes to untangle headphones for use in its planes; Joe Bloggs who get Strangeways inmates to stitch its clothes and Age Concern who have their donation bags printed and folded."

All going well we will have a new campaign bulletin out soon, letting you know what's been happening with the campaign over the summer, new developments and what we have planned. In the meantime we will keep you updated should Mark's sitution take a turn for the worst or should he be moved again.


More information on Mark Barnsley