- Created: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 10:55
On 22 January FRFI supporters joined Brighton ABC and the Friends of Ronnie Easterbrook outside the Ministry of Justice in London to show our solidarity with Ronnie, who, as we go to press is entering the sixth week of a hunger-strike.
Ronnie was sentenced to life for armed robbery and attempted murder in 1988 after a failed robbery on a supermarket wages van. A police informant set the job up and Ronnie and two others were ambushed by PT17, the elite tactical firearms unit. Tony Ash was shot dead, despite surrendering, and Ronnie, Gary Wilson and a police inspector all suffered gunshot wounds. Also lying in wait was a Thames TV crew, who captured the shoot-out on film.
Ronnie maintains he was a victim of a police shoot-to-kill policy, modelled on tactics used in the north of Ireland, but was prevented from putting forward a defence based on this, both by his own barrister’s refusal to co-operate and the judge’s refusal to allow a political defence. He ended up having to represent himself and as he admits, made a lousy job of it.
Ronnie refuses to apply for parole because he doesn’t recognise the legality of his sentence, saying that until he gets a new trial justice will not have been done. He is already in failing health due to previous protests and this may be his final act against a judicial system he believes has unjustly imprisoned him for 20 years.
Write urging a review of Ronnie’s case to: Jacqui Smith, MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.
Send messages of solidarity to Ronnie Easterbrook (B58459) HMP Gartree, Gallowfield Road, Market Harborough LE16 7RP.
Death in Styal
On 8 January 36-year-old Alison Colk was found hanged in Styal prison on the first day of a 28-day sentence for theft. The Prison Service has been boasting that there were ‘only’ 61 self-inflicted deaths in prisons in England and Wales in 2008, a reduction on previous years. But any death is one too many. From 2004 to her own death last year, every time a woman prisoner died, Pauline Campbell, whose own daughter Sarah died in Styal in January 2003, staged a demonstration outside the prison. FRFI supporters attended many such events around the country. Continuing that tradition, a small group of people who knew and worked with Pauline held a demonstration outside Styal on 28 January in memory of Alison Colk and all the women who have needlessly died in British prisons.
FRFI 207 February / March 2009