Demand by UK pro-Israel lawyers’ group to prosecute Proms protesters
Call to prosecute anti-Israel Proms protesters
By Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle
A new pro-Israel lawyers group has written to the Metropolitan Police calling for the prosecution of protesters who disrupted a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in London last September.
Jonathan Turner, chairman of UK Lawyers for Israel, set up last year, urged the Met’s Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, to ask the Crown Prosecution Service to act before the March 1 deadline on mounting a prosecution.
Mr Turner argued that charges of aggravated trespass could be brought against some of the demonstrators over the incident during a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
He wrote: “The disrupters loudly sang, chanted and shouted, effectively ruining the performance for those present and causing the BBC to take the live transmission off the air.
“Eye-witness accounts and video footage confirm that the repeated interruptions resulted in a threatening atmosphere which could easily have led to a serious breakdown of public order.”
While a number of witnesses had contacted the police at the time, Mr Turner wrote: “It appears that a decision was then taken not to prosecute, apparently because the Royal Albert Hall management did not specifically ask the police to act.
“We find this difficult to understand. The fact that the Royal Albert Hall has not asked the police to intervene does not mean that no crime has occurred.”
UK Lawyers for Israel
MFA (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Lawyers in the UK have formed a new group called UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI).
Following the Maale HaChamisha conference, lawyers in the UK have formed a new group called UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI).
Contacts are: Jonathan Turner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and David Lewis (email@example.com)
The group’s aims are:
1. To provide professional legal support including advocacy, research, advice and campaigning in combating attempts to undermine, attack and/or delegitimise Israel, Israeli organisations, Israelis and/or supporters of Israel
2. To organise basic training for lawyers on international law and Israel, to enable them to engage in a balanced way in public debates
3. To provide background assistance to students at university who require protection against anti-semitism and hate speech etc, to help them to exercise their rights under the general law and the regulations of their universities
4. To enable networking among like-minded lawyers in the UK and the efficient sharing of resources, experience and best practices
5. To act as a point of contact for like-minded groups from the USA, Europe, Israel and other countries
6. To contribute generally as lawyers to creating a supportive climate of opinion in the UK towards Israel
Activities of its members so far have included:
– Filing a report (SAR) with the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) regarding the provision of banking facilities by the Cooperative Bank to the organization “Viva Palestina”, which arranged convoys to Gaza. The report noted that by providing these facilities the Bank assisted in the transfer of funds to the Hamas, including its armed wing, contrary to UK anti-terrorism legislation and OECD agreements. It has recently been reported that Viva Palestina will not be sponsoring further convoys to Gaza.
– Complaining to the UK Office for Judicial Complaints regarding the Judge’s conduct of the Trial in R v Saibene and asking the Attorney-General to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. In this case the Defendants were acquitted of conspiracy to damage property of the military contractor EDO on the ground that this was justified to protect property in Gaza against which the equipment supplied by EDO might be used. The complaints about the Judge’s conduct were upheld and he was formally reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor. The Attorney-General is still considering whether to refer the case to the Court of Appeal.
– Complaining to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarding an advertisement placed in a National Geographic magazine by the Palestinian Authority . The ASA had previously banned an advertisement by the Israel Government Tourist Office which included a picture of the Kotel on the ground that it implied that East Jerusalem is part of Israel when its status is disputed. The Palestinian advertisement referred to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus and Hebron as being cities in Palestine. The ASA upheld the complaints that this was misleading as the status of these cities is disputed.
– Objecting to the Law Society of England & Wales hosting the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine”. The complaint was unsuccessful, but we think the Law Society will be more careful about allowing its premises to be used for this kind of event in future.