G4S rooftop protesters acquitted
By Luke James, Morning Star
August 21, 2013
Two men who occupied the roof of security privateer G4S’s headquarters for over eight hours were found not guilty of aggravated trespass today.
Campaigners Chris Osmond and Shiar Youssef embarrassed the company by hanging two Stop G4S protest banners from their offices on July 2 last year.
Police finally hauled the determined pair down and charged them under the Public Order Act.
But both were found not guilty today following a three-day trial at Horsham Magistrates Court.
Mr Osmond told the Star the pair had been acquitted because they hadn’t caused any disruption to business by climbing on the roof.
The protesters had planned to argue that the company were not carrying out lawful business on the day of their protest.
A jury found earlier this year that three G4S guards “unlawfully killed” Jimmy Mubenga while deporting him from Britain in October 2010.
The company also has contracts with the Israeli prison service, who campaigners believe are holding Palestinians in breach of international rights laws.
Mr Osmond said the growing campaign against G4S has helped to discredit the company since staging their rooftop protest.
“G4S was excluded from tendering for a contract by a university in Norway in May this year on the basis that their business in Palestine, with the Israeli prison service, made them an unsuitable candidate,” he explained.
“So the grass-roots campaign against G4S is biting and we’re going to carry on with it.”
Mr Osmond and Mr Youssef wanted to highlight that work connected to those contracts is carried out in G4S’s Crawley HQ but that was ruled out.
Mr Youssef said: “I feel happy after being acquitted but a little disappointed that yet again a court was not willing to look into the lawfulness of the activities of an international corporation that has been surrounded by controversy.
“That’s exactly why people like us feel we have to take action.
“I hope this will inspire other people to campaign and stop G4S taking over more public services.”
Media release Stop G4S
Campaigners who staged an eight-hour rooftop occupation at the corporate headquarters of controversial security company G4S were today [Aug 21] acquitted of aggravated trespass by a district judge at Horsham Magistrates Court.
The pair, one a member No Borders and the other a member of the Boycott Israel Network, staged the rooftop occupation in July 2012. The protest aimed to highlight the security giant’s track record of unlawful activity and human rights abuses, particularly in the UK and Israeli-occupied Palestine.
Despite alleged complicity in human rights abuses, G4S still receives government contracts, including in policing, asylum housing, rape crisis centres and to assist with the inquiry into the Hillsborough stadium tragedy.
Judge Crabtree made clear he did not want to delve into the legality of the G4S activities that the protesters were contesting. However, he did rule that the rooftop occupation did not cause enough disruption to the activities of the company for the two activists to be found guilty of aggravated trespass.
The judge did accepted that the main aim of the protest was to highlight G4S’ track record of participation in human rights violations and to generate publicity and public awareness.
G4S public relations and media director Adam Mynott gave evidence about the ‘apparent lawfulness’ of G4S’ activities. Under cross examination, it became clear that the ex-BBC correspondent was not in a position to testify to the lawfulness of the company’s various activities. The judge nonetheless accepted his assertions that G4S was a lawful business at face value.
Mynott confirmed that at the time of the demonstration on July 2, the Crawley head office of G4S has overall responsibility for G4S’ contracts with the Israeli Prison Service.
In a joint statement, the two acquitted activists said:
We are obviously happy that we were acquitted. However, we are quite disappointed that a court was yet again not willing to scrutinise the wrong doings of a controversial company. This is exactly why we and other concerned people like us feel they have to take direct action to address corporate crimes.
An inquest recently gave a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’ with regards to the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died during a G4S-operated forcible deportation to Angola. According to witnesses heard by the inquest, the three G4S security guards escorting the 46-year-old father of five used a dangerous restraint position that is known to cause suffocation and other serious injuries.
Campaigners are calling on the Crown Prosecution Service to bring corporate manslaughter charges against G4S.
More than 750 allegations of abuse have been made against G4S over its running of British immigrant detention centres and deportations.
Palestinian and international human rights organisations have condemned G4S for its contract with the Israeli Prison Service, which sees the company provide services and equipment to Israeli prisons and detentions at which Palestinian political prisoners are often held without charge and subjected to torture. G4S provides services and equipment to prisons inside Israel to which Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory are transferred in violation of the Geneva Convention.
In addition, G4S faces a UK parliamentary inquiry over its housing of asylum seekers in unfit and dangerous properties.
· Campaigners call for corporate manslaughter charges against G4S following ‘unlawful killing’ verdict in Jimmy Mubenga inquest
· G4S confirms plans to maintain contracts with Israel’s Prison Authority and settlements- http://www.danwatch.dk/en/articles/g4s-well-stay-prisons-and-settlements/258
· Jimmy Mubenga repeatedly called for help before he died, inquest hears – http://stopg4s.net/node/82
· COMPASS Asylum Housing Contracts: “Crude Price Cutting”. 2 Investigations Underway – http://www.symaag.org.uk/2013/05/08/compass-asylum-housing-contracts-crude-price-cutting-2-investigations-underway/
Activists occupy the roof over G4S heads July 2nd, 2012