JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY

 

CAMPAIGN BULLETIN JULY/AUGUST 2000


  MARK STARTS HIS SEVENTH YEAR OF WRONGFUL IMPRISONMENT   For most people Thursday 8th of June, 2000 was just another day. For wrongfully imprisoned Sheffield man Mark Barnsley, and the ever growing number of people who support his struggle for justice, it has special significance. It marked the 6th anniversary of what has become known as 'The Pomona Incident' (see below).   As in previous years on June 8th, Marks' supporters highlighted this gross miscarriage of justice and the campaign to get Mark's conviction overturned and his name cleared.   In Sheffield the day started off with a lively picket outside Sheffield Crown Court to protest the farce of a trial which Mark received there and the fact that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) are STILL illegally refusing to hand over vital evidence to Mark and his solicitor after all these years. The offices of the Sheffield Star were picketed next, in protest at the downright lies and distortion which this gutter rag have printed about the case. Strangely this year The Star were unusually silent about Mark. Leaflets about Mark's case were handed out throughout the day to people in the city centre streets attracting support. In the evening there was a small but enthusiastic gathering to discuss the campaign and future activities. Meanwhile in Bradford, there was a benefit gig at the '1in12 club' for the campaign.   It has to be said that the turn out in Sheffield was poor. The day should have been advertised better and we knew that several supporters, would be unable to attend. A lot of people however just didn't seem to bother at all, leading us to conclude that there are contacts on our mailing list who are not really interested in supporting the campaign. If you are one of these, please let us know, so that we don't waste time and resources in future. To those who helped on the day, especially those who travelled from out of town we give our sincere thanks.   In the coming months we are making a big effort to push the campaign forward in the Sheffield area and urge all supporters, particularly those of you who live locally, to get involved. There will be regular info. stalls and other activities in the coming weeks, leading to a public meeting in Sheffield in early September. Lets make it a huge success!   Abroad in countries such as Sweden and Ireland supporters activities to highlight Mark's situation took the form of leafleting, protests to British Embassies and press releases to British media. In Malta for example, supporters handed out leaflets about Mark's case at the City Gate of Valletta (Malta's Capital City). The activity achieved very good media coverage, prominently featuring on the front page of the daily 'Malta Independent' newspaper and also featuring in "L-Orizzont", the daily newspaper of the General Workers Union, Malta's largest trade-union. Previously 100's of postcards signed by students and academic staff were sent from Malta and many more from concerned people across the world to British Home Secretary Jack Straw, urging him to investigate the Illegal withholding of evidence by the CPS, a crucial part in Mark's case. Mark is now into his seventh year of wrongful imprisonment. The myth that Britains' legal system is the 'fairest in the world' is certainly wearing very thin. Jack Straw and company, you have a lot of explaining to do.     HANDS OFF MARK BARNSLEY! END THE BRUTALITY AND HARASSMENT   On July 20th, 2000, Mark was transferred from Woodhill to Parkhurst prison. As usual the transfer was under high security conditions. On arriving at reception the first thing said to him was "who have you upset to get sent to Parkhurst?". He was later put in The Block (segregation) for a week, where he is only allowed 1 hour exercise or a shower per day, has access to one short phone call per day and no 'privileges'. It's difficult to imagine a more blatant punishment move. This prison is situated on an Island, off the South coast of England. This is Marks' 4th transfer this year and is a clear attempt to further isolate him from his family, supporters and solicitor. Mark's solicitor has been trying to get him moved closer to his family and friends in the North of England, however the Prison Service obviously have other plans for him. The decision to send Mark to Parkhurst was made by an individual at The Directorate of High Security Prisons called John Golds.   The Justice for Mark Barnsley Campaign is demanding that Mark is relocated immediately to a prison in the North of England. We request that supporters write protest letters and faxes and make phone calls to the British Government and prison officials listed below. Letters to your local MP may also be of help. We have a sample letter to give you a few ideas. Pickets, publicity stunts and other constructive actions are also welcomed. Please send us news of any solidarity actions. Letters of support can be sent to Mark at:   Mark Barnsley- WA2897, HMP Parkhurst, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 5NX, UK   Mark replies to all letters he receives. If you've written to him and not got a reply please inform the campaign.   Please send letters/e-mails/faxes of protest, to the following:   Peter Atherton -Director of High Security Prisons Fax: 0207 2176664 Martin Narey -Director General of Prisons John Golds -Directorate of High Security Prisons for the above write to: Prison Service HQ Cleland House Page Street London SWT 4LN   Max Morrison-The Governor HMP Parkhurst Newport Isle of Wight PO30 5NX Tel:01983 523855 Fax:01983 524861   Paul Boateng MP-Minister of State Jack Straw MP- Home Secretary gen.ho@gtnet.gov.uk   for the above write to: Home Office Queen Anne's Gate London SW1H 9AT   Sample Letter   Dear x x x x x I am writing to express my concern that Mark Barnsley has been the victim of yet another punishment transfer, this time to HMP Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. Mark's location at HMP Parkhurst makes visits from his children, family and friends in the North of England and from his Sheffield based solicitor, extremely difficult, if not impossible. I believe that Mark's transfer to HMP Parkhurst is part of a Prison Service campaign to isolate and punish him, and as such it deserves to be strongly condemned. I hope that you will do everything within your power to arrange a transfer for Mark, to a long-term prison within reasonable travelling distance of Sheffield. Yours faithfully. x x x x x     International pressure, letters to newspapers and human rights organisations like Amnesty International   (1 Easton Street, London, WC1X ODW, UK) asking that they investigate Mark's ill-treatment will also help (please send copies of letters to MP's & Ministers).     THE LAST 6 MONTHS FOR MARK BARNSLEY   January 19th. Mark suddenly transferred from HMP Full Sutton to notoriously repressive HMP Long Lartin. At Long Lartin, Mark's mail (especially campaign related) goes 'missing' or is withheld.   April 22nd. At Long Lartin, Mark & 6 other prisoners locked into a cell with no explanation. Almost 9 hours later (without food & water) cell door opens. Mark & others are attacked with high pressure water jet & guards in riot gear storm the cell. Mark smashed in face with riot shield & fists, repeatedly kicked & punched before being thrown into segregation. His clothes are taken as 'evidence', he is refused a medical examination by prison doctor & charged with 'barricading a cell door' despite total lack of evidence. Mark officially Segregated under 'Good order & Discipline' rule & denied access to his property.   April 26th. A day after word gets out to his solicitor, Mark transferred to HMP Cardiff. His property remains at Long Lartin.   "I was moved to the Segregation Unit of Cardiff Prison, Wales, as the first stage of a punitive 'circuit' (prisoners call it the 'roundabout' or 'ghost train'). This is a practice where prisoners are constantly moved from prison to prison every month or so, to keep them isolated and unsettled. My transfer to Cardiff was my 15th prison move in 6 years."   Mark was put into a freezing cold cell with no natural light, only dim artificial light. He kept warm by pacing the cell during the day & at night shivered, fully clothed under 2 thin prison blankets. Still, the Cardiff dungeon did not have the calculated cruelty of the 'modern' Long Lartin Block. 3 weeks later Mark moved to a cramped but warmer cell. Throughout his 5 weeks at Cardiff, Mark was confined to a cell 23/24 hours a day without his property and denied access to his legal papers. Recently Mark discovered that not only had HMP Long Lartin been withholding his mail but HMP Cardiff were systematically interfering with both his incoming & outgoing legal & campaign mail, & withholding all incoming political literature. A lot of important letters from supporters & miscarriage of justice organisations were unlawfully withheld. A deliberate attempt to deny Mark support, increase his isolation in the wake of the brutality at Long Lartin & damage the campaign.   "Perhaps most serious was the withholding of a letter from Adam James, a journalist who has been investigating my case, and wanted to visit me at Cardiff, together with 'Big Issue In The North' editor Rob Cave. A letter from Mr James was unlawfully impounded in order to deliberately prevent this visit taking place. The sustained interference with my mail at Cardiff probably represents the most serious attack yet by Prison Service despots upon the campaign."   May 30th. Mark moved to HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes by an escort of 7 screws from Long Lartin. Supposedly for a '28 day lay-down', Mark's stay at Woodhill dragged on for over 7 weeks. For several weeks before his eventual transfer, Mark was told he'd be moved at any time in order to keep him in a state of stress & uncertainty, & to ensure that no visits could take place. After about 2 weeks at Woodhill & only after the repeated intervention of his solicitor, Mark's property was eventually forwarded from Long Lartin, together with his legal papers. Both had been ransacked, with several property items (mainly clothes) & legal documents stolen. Shampoo, toothpaste (& worse) had been emptied over everything. A week or so after this, the clothing Mark had been wearing during the attack at Long Lartin arrived at Woodhill. It was soaked in blood.   July 11th. Incident at Woodhill during a search of Mark's cell by the prisons' 'Dedicated Search Team' who wear paramilitary clothing & normally search Category 'A' prisoners (Mark is Cat B). After being stripped of his clothing there was a further attempt to humiliate him by ordering him to 'squat'. After refusing to comply, Mark later returned to his cell to find that his radio no longer worked. The prison refused to accept responsibility for the damage so the matter will be pursued through the Small Claims Court.   Following the assaults at Long Lartin back in April, there was an attempt to get Mark and the other 6 prisoners criminally charged with 'Prison Mutiny' & 'Violent Disorder' as well as being charged with supposedly barricading the cell they had in fact been locked in. Even the cops must have realised they weren't going to be able to fit them up on criminal charges. None of them were even interviewed.   "In relation to the prison discipline charge, it has taken our solicitors nearly 3 months to obtain any evidence at all from Long lartin. Much of it (e.g. the video recordings of us being beaten up) is still being withheld, but we now have statements from some of the screws involved in the first part of the incident. Not only am I not even mentioned in a single statement, but there is absolutely no evidence of a barricade, and it is clear that it was the screws who locked us in the cell during some kind of 'security' operation. This is the quality of the State's evidence and the flimsy pretext by which I was segregated for 6 weeks, denied access to my property, and banished to the furthest reaches of the prison estate."   Meanwhile Mark & the other prisoners have made complaints about the assaults on them which are currently being investigated by both Amnesty International & Long Lartin's pals in the local Evesham Plod.   "Whatever the findings of the cops, we will certainly be seeing the scum who so viciously attacked us in Court, and through a high profile action we hope to expose the widespread brutality and systematic ill-treatment against prisoners at Long Lartin."   Over the past 3 months, Prisons Minister Paul Boateng and senior lackeys of the Prison Service have received several hundred cards and letters protesting at Mark's ill-treatment. Despite this, the victimisation continues and is in fact being organised at the very highest levels. The way Mark is being treated amounts to serious human rights abuse and British Government Ministers are entirely complicit in these abuses.   "Despite the most vile attempts of the British State to break me I remain strong and defiant. I ask all supporters here and throughout the world to strongly protest the way I am being treated and to demand an end to the injustice I am subjected to".   We would like to thank everyone who has supported the campaign over the past months. Things have been rough for Mark, but the campaign remains solidly behind his struggle for justice. We hope that we can rely on your continued support.   UPCOMING CAMPAIGN EVENTS   IN SHEFFIELD   AUGUST. Saturdays   Regular Information stalls in various parts of Sheffield.   SEPTEMBER. Saturday 9th   Daytime-Big information stall -Fargate starts 11.30 am.   Evening - Justice for Mark Barnsley - Public meeting. The Broomspring Centre, Broomspring Lane, Broomfield. Starts 6.30 pm. The one not to miss! Tell all your mates about this important meeting. All supporters welcomed. If these events are to be a success we need more people, especially in Sheffield, to get involved. If you can volunteer a bit of your time and help out, we urge you to phone the campaign on 07944 522001 for further details.   IN LONDON   AUGUST. Thursday 17th. - 7PM   Public Launch of the new pamphlet- BEATEN UP, FITTED UP, LOCKED UP- MARK BARNSLEY AND 'THE POMONA INCIDENT'- A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE. At: Housemans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 (Nearest Tube - Kings Cross). Speakers include Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6) from the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO). All Welcome.   REVIEW of Beaten Up, Fitted Up, Locked Up.   Mark Barnsley is a Sheffield writer and activist and this gripping pamphlet details the nightmare that started when he went for a quiet drink in a Sheffield pub with a family friend. Starting with verbal abuse, a group of drunken students then attacked him repeatedly, chasing him and kicking him at every opportunity when he was on the ground. During this attack someone produced knife which Mark picked up to prevent them from stabbing him with it. Despite the fact he did not even brandish it in self defence, this forms the basis of his conviction for assault!   Unsurprisingly it turns out that these students perjured themselves during the trial about their drug use before the incident and contradicted one another on various points. Still, the police appear happy to use any means necessary to silence a critical voice.   Beyond the attack, this pamphlet records a catalogue of behaviour varying from the 'irregular' to the outrageous from the Press, Judge and Crown Persecution Service. Five years on the C.P.S. are still refusing to release information about the incident - such as police notebooks - of course this could be vital in appealing against the conviction. The Sheffield 'Star' even went so far (or low) as to use a quote from a barman at a different pub in reporting the case. Mark Barnsley was even convicted on counts of which he had not been accused! The jury accepted he had not initiated the violence and yet the judge sentenced him to twelve years, which is longer than the tariff for manslaughter.   This pamphlet has quotations from evidence of witnesses all of which support the defence case - even those of prosecution witnesses.   You could merely use the information presented here to support the idea that 'justice' in the UK is something that is bought and sold and has very little association with the facts of the case at hand - or you could follow some of the suggestions and get involved with the campaign for Justice for Mark Barnsley! We must not forget that in the words of Michael Mansfield QC, it isn't the appeal system that redresses miscarriages of justice but public pressure. This pamphlet is an excellent introduction to the case. Get informed and then get involved.   The Pamphlet costs £2 and is available from: J.f.M.B. - PO BOX 381, Huddersfield, HD13XX. Please make cheques/postal orders made payable to: 'JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY'(UK £ Sterling only)     Justicia Para Mark Barnsley   In Barcelona, Spain, monthly meetings are held at the okupied social centre 'Kan Mireia' where there is an exhibition about Mark's case. Campaign T-shirts will soon be available in Castilian & Catalan. In principle these can be produced in any language if there is sufficient demand. There are exciting plans to produce a video about Mark's case which would consist of contributions in several different languages from supporters around the world. After editing, the video could then be subtitled into each language and shown round the world. Anyone with access to a video camera can participate in this International project. For more detailed information about the above please contact the campaign in England or: APDO 38084, 08080 Barcelona, Spain.   Ireland Support Group At present the 'Ireland Support Group' is still working on a booklet about Mark's campaign for Justice. Consisting of a number of personal contributions from both friends & supporters of Mark it will complement the other new pamphlet 'Beaten Up, Fitted Up, Locked Up'. We still need contributions so please send these or questions about this project to: J. f. M. B. (Ireland) address below. We have recently produced a new leaflet about Mark. In August we will have a display about Mark's case and the campaign at the annual West Belfast Festival. Please see the local press for details.   JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY - CAMPAIGN BADGES & T-SHIRTS Black print on good quality cotton T-SHIRTS Colours - WHITE, LIGHT GREY, RED, YELLOW or GREEN. In case we run out of a colour please state alternatives Sizes - SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE, XL. T-shirts cost : £6 each (post. paid) in U.K. & Europe. or £7 each (post. paid) outside Europe. We also have pin-on BADGES of the same design. These are 50p each or 3 for £1 (post. paid). When ordering please ensure you send payment in either cash or Cheque/Postal Order made payable to: 'JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY'. Please send orders to: j.f.m.b: PO BOX 381, Huddersfield, HD1 3XX   Get Involved The campaign to free Mark is growing by the day, with supporters throughout Britain, Ireland and indeed throughout the world. For further information please contact: Justice for Mark Barnsley - c/o 145-9 Cardigan Road, Leeds, LS6 1LJ. Justice for Mark Barnsley (Ireland) - PO Box 1290, Belfast, BT12 7BW. Tel: 07944 522001 E-mail: barnsleycampaign@hotmail.com   If you have a web-site we'd appreciate it if you could add info. about Mark's campaign to it or a link to the web sites listed below. www.appleonline.net/justiceuk/eddie/mark.html www.openlyclassist.org.uk/ www.veggies.org.uk/cage www.access.lowtech.org/freepeople/mark.html