Eric Allison's comments and Pauline Campbell's letter to FRFI

Eric Allison writes: I was fortunate enough to consider Pauline Campbell as a close friend. Since her death, I have been inundated with phone calls from people bereft at her passing - from a woman in her late seventies, who joined Pauline on the campaign trail and mourns the loss of a passionate and dedicated leader, to a young ex-prisoner, who viewed her as a surrogate mother. Because, despite her personal grief at the loss of an only child, Pauline always found room to console and comfort the relatives of others who had died in custody and to guide them through the legal minefield that obstructs the search for the truth.

Few in the new Ministry of Justice will mourn her passing. She met the criminal justice system head on and became a constant, sharp thorn in its side. Her direct action, in blocking the progress of a wretched sweat box into the prison she was demonstrating outside created a huge dilemma for the system; should it prosecute her and make her a martyr; or release her without charge, knowing full well that, come the death of another woman in prison, Pauline would be back, to confront the system at full tilt? When she was arrested, the police would often employ dirty tactics, such as keeping her in a cell until the early hours of the morning. (For the heinous offence of obstructing the highway) If they thought would deter her from demonstrating in the future they badly miscalculated her strength and determination.

During the five years that Pauline took on the system, it was easy to forget that she was a grieving mother, who had lost her only child. They say that time is the great healer, but in Pauline’s case, the pain of her loss must have attacked her every day; for every single day that she carried the banner, was a day that her grief was stirred up yet again. I suspect that, in the end, she was simply very tired.

Rest in peace Pauline, you were a true warrior.


CPS backs down

My letter published in FRFI No. 202, April/May 2008 ("Protest against prison deaths") urged readers to write to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Crewe, Cheshire, to question how the prosecution against me could possibly be in the public interest.

Following written representations to both the CPS and the Attorney General, I can report that the charge against me has been dropped, and my three-day criminal trial scheduled for July 2008 has been cancelled. I am aware that FRFI readers have written letters to protest against this senseless prosecution, and I should like to place on record my thanks to those who have put pen to paper on my behalf.

This prosecution should never have reached court in the first place. Both the CPS and the court were made aware that I am a bereaved mother, and that my only child had died at the hands of the state. This particular attempt to criminalise and punish me was especially cruel, as I was arrested outside Styal the prison responsible for my daughter's death in 2003. Lisa Marley, a young mother held on remand at Styal, died on 23 January 2008, and I was arrested and charged with obstructing the highway - a charge which I denied - at the demonstration to protest against her death.

Aside from the vindictive nature of this prosecution, the case has raised a number of issues and, for reasons of openness and transparency, it is important to highlight this iniquity.

All along, the Crown had argued that the case was in the public interest. At each of my three court appearances, and in a three-page letter to the CPS in March 2008, I argued to the contrary, and challenged their assertion that the case had passed the public interest test. After three months they caved in, but it is unclear to me why it took so long for them to see the light.

The case also highlights difficulties defendants face when applying for legal aid. My application for legal aid had been refused, apparently on the grounds that it had not met the criteria necessary to meet the 'interests of justice' test. At each hearing, I had to attend court without a solicitor, which was enormously stressful. I am not a lawyer, and have had no legal training. It is an affront to the principle of access to justice that anyone should have to stand criminal trial, and attend pre-trial reviews, without legal representation. Yet whenever I attended court, the Crown was represented by a lawyer. I fail to understand how a defendant in a criminal trial can adequately represent themselves. It defies common sense. How can justice be achieved when there is clear inequality of arms?

There is a growing loss of confidence in our criminal justice system, which is hardly surprising. When laid bare, the system is frequently revealed as unjust and unfair, and it is crucial that people speak out against this injustice.

But bringing pressure to bear on the authorities can and does work, as my case illustrates. The idiom 'the pen is mightier than the sword' tells us that words and communication are more powerful than wars and fighting. When faced with a prosecution, and an attempt to criminalise me, I will always fight my corner with strong words, and an even stronger determination to ensure that justice prevails.

Pauline Campbell Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died on 'suicide watch' in Styal Prison's segregation unit, 2003

Spanish political prisoner writes...

We have received the last four issues of your newspaper, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! with great pleasure, since it brings us important information concerning the deepening inter-imperialist rivalries and their consequences.
You will be interested to know we now have a date for the judicial farce/court case for the PCE(r) activists and GRAPO fighters who have been detained since November 2000: from 12 June to 4 July. We have sent you some leaflets we have put out to mobilise, through our limited means, all anti-fascists and democrats to join us in demonstrating outside this travesty of justice and turn the event into an international tribunal against imperialism, against capitalism and against fascism.

JAIME SIMON QUINTELA
Centro Penitenciario, Sevilla II, Spain

Free the Paris 7!
Demonstrate against the farcical trial of the PCE(r)
12 June-4 July, outside the Palais de Justice de Paris, 4, Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, France.
For further information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FRFI 173 June / July 2003

Can printing dollars stave off US economic crisis?

FRFI 173 June / July 2003

Thanks to David Yaffe for his excellent article in FRFI 171. As he points out, the USA needs a constant influx of foreign capital to maintain the overinflated and privileged lifestyles of the US American masses.

Such an influx should be impossible, considering that, since 1970, the US produces less and less basic substantial goods and the weakness of the US dollar with respect to the euro. ‘Should’ be that way, if free trade governed, but not if the neighbourhood’s only armed bully has anything to do with it.

Absent from the article, I suggest, is the fact that the US dollar is today’s ‘preferred currency of international exchange’. So the US needs no foreign capital influx, but only to set the presses rolling.

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Act now to support Alan Porter!

My name is Alan Porter and I am from Scotland. I am serving a life sentence in a prison in England. I am trying to persuade the Prison Service of England and Wales to transfer me to a Scottish prison. I think that as a Scottish national this should be my right but they are refusing to accept my application. I am therefore writing to ask for your help.

I was born on 10 December 1955 and brought up in Renfrewshire. I lived in Scotland until 1985, when I moved down to England. Four years later on 3 July 1989 Lewes Crown Court sentenced me to life imprisonment for killing a man in Brighton. It was a stupid, senseless act. I have never denied committing this murder or tried to blame anyone else for it, and of course I regret it terribly.

My life at the time was a bit chaotic, to say the least, and even part of the time I’d spent in England prior to getting life had been spent in prison for another offence. My intention was always to return to Scotland, where I had a council house that had previously been my grandfather’s. I started my sentence at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs. I petitioned for a transfer then but it was refused.

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