In September last year, I mentioned that members of the Space Hijackers faced charges of impersonating police officers, after turning up at the G20 protests in a six-wheeled armoured personnel carrier. They had been offered cautions by the police but had refused to accept them. These ridiculous charges made up a substantial proportion of the total prosecutions resulting from events on 1 April 2009, which also made it seem like they are being made an example of for the public relations disaster that the police faced following the protests in the City of London.
The good news is that, as Sky News reported this morning, their trial was due to begin next week, but yesterday all charges were being withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service. The blog of former Sky journalist Leah Borromeo, one of those arrested, quotes the defendants' barrister Michael Wolkind QC, who said:
Raj Chada of solicitors Hodge Jones & Allen added:
“It was a great surprise when Keir Starmer, the DPP, took time off from the investigation of the death of Ian Tomlinson, personally to confirm the absurd decision to pursue this prosecution. His judgement has been exposed by the late decision to discontinue the case”.
That's prioriitisation in the criminal justice system for you. In November, the DPP had indicated that a decision on charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson would be made before Christmas.
"In light of the numerous allegations of violence and misconduct against the police that have marred the event, perhaps the biggest joke is the decision to prosecute those peaceful protestors playing loud music and wearing fancy dress."
We're still waiting.
UPDATE - in a statement the Space Hijackers have said:
We would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for this amazing team building exercise they have put us through. At the cost of tens of thousands of pounds to the tax payer, the Space Hijackers as a group are now much more numerous, organised, brave, focussed and optimistic in what we can get away with. We look forward to their continued, if slightly fanatically eager interest in our work; getting our tank back, our compensation and using our new found team skills, to take our forms of protest up to the next more outrageous and cunning level...
... In other news, the Space Hijackers now have a whole free week which we’ve all booked off work and therefore intend to spend it causing as much chaos as possible.