I finally appeared at Sunderland Magistrates Court this afternoon and won! All those months banned from picketing, not to mention 3 days in jail, and the case is thrown out because the pigs cocked it up big time!
I was waiting outside of the courtroom with my two witnesses, Ian and Mick, and the pig who’d been photographed with me, but who hadn’t arrested me, didn’t seem to recognise who I was.
I was called in to see my Barrister and she asked me if I had any information which could help my case. I stressed that I had been arrested by two officers, an Inspector and a Sergeant, and that the young PC credited with my arrest had actually been sitting in the van I was thrown into after being dragged there by the two officers. I also said he was sitting outside and I had the feeling he didn’t know who I was. A man got up and left the room. My Barrister, a very clever woman, told me the police had offered to reduce the charge if I pleaded guilty. I refused on principle, but also because I had a very clear photograph of the two officers dragging me to the van, which I gave her.
Inside the courtroom I was very nervous and sat facing the bench. On the right there was a diagram of the alleged crime scene at Wearmouth Colliery. The young PC was called as the first and only witness for the prosecution, and was asked if he could identify the defendant in court. What a bloody joke! Of course he could bloody recognise me because I was sitting where defendants bloody sit! He then gave his version of what happened on the morning of September 5th, 1984, using the diagram to illustrate his points. According to him I had been at the head of a large body of pickets, lashing out at the police with feet and fists and behaving like a violent thug. He said that I had viciously attacked an Inspector, knocking him to the ground before leaping on him and grabbing him round the throat, trying to throttle him. The young PC then heroically arrested me by shoving my right arm up my back and leading me to the van where he put me inside. When he’d finished the Magistrate looked as if he was just about to have me hung. I was totally stunned.
My Barrister went straight onto the attack and asked if the ‘assaulted’ Inspector was in the court? He wasn’t. She then asked for his name and the young PC nervously admitted he didn’t know it. She began to pour scorn on his evidence, suggesting that if his statement were to be believed, I had seriously assaulted a senior police officer who was not in court and couldn’t be named. Surely the charge against me should have been serious assault, if not attempted murder instead of a mere ‘Breach of the Peace’. The young PC was gobsmacked and unable to explain any of it.
My Barrister then went straight for the throat and said,’I would remind you officer that you are on oath and that perjury is a very serious crime’. She then asked him if it was not true that when a colleague of hers had asked the PC, before court started, ‘Have you seen Norman Strike,it’s urgent? you replied,’I wouldn’t know him if I saw him’. The young PC stuttered that he hadn’t said that exactly, but she cut him short by reminding him again that he was still under oath. He then admitted that he had said that but added that I was definitely the man he had arrested because he recognised my face! She said that he could have seen me lots of times on previous days and he was forced to admit that was possible. She told the Magistrate that there was insufficient evidence to prove the charge against me and that it should be dropped. The Magistrate did some whispering and then, reluctantly it seemed to me, dismissed the case. Brilliant!
I thanked the Barrister and young colleague for their help and asked if there was any chance of me suing the police for wrongful arrest and imprisonment. She advised me to be content with my escape and not too push the police too far. It wouldn’t be a good move. Perhaps not but it would give me a lot of personal satisfaction. How could the police stand up in court, under oath, and blatantly lie and get away with it? British Justice Thatcher style.
As I was being congratulated by Ian and Mick, the young PC wished me and my family a very merry xmas, and added he was glad I got off! I couldn’t believe my ears. If he’d been believed I might have been spending xmas behind bars! Then he accused my barrister of using dirty tricks to trap him! I wanted to punch him but didn’t want any more grief so I just thanked him for confirming that the pigs are liars and cannot be trusted, and walked off with the lads to celebrate.