- Created: Thursday, 10 March 2011 12:06
- Written by FRFI
On 19 December 1980 the Glasgow 2 -Mike Duffield and Kirstin Crosbie, arrested on 9 August whilst selling Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! outside Celtic Football ground –were found guilty of 'conducting themselves in a disorderly manner' by shouting 'inflammatory slogans likely to occasion a breach of the peace'. Mike and Kirstin were fined £150 and £125 respectively.
Political charges under PTA
From the moment of their arrest and imprisonment under the racist PTA, right up to the pronouncement of the guilty verdict by Sheriff Stewart Bell, there was no doubt that the two were facing political charges aimed at suppressing their rights as communists to tell the truth about what the British state is doing in Ireland.
Whilst the rich and powerful British ruling class is able, simply by virtue of its huge resources, to monopolise every channel of the media, communists are to be denied the right even to stand on the streets and sell their newspapers to the British workers.
The conduct of the trial by the state left not a shred of doubt as to its political nature. Mike Duffield was questioned on his views on free speed) and on the police. Kirstin Crosbie was questioned on whether she felt 'outraged' at NF marches and on whether she thought there was support for the IRA in Britain. A witness was interrogated as to whether he supported the IRA, whether he had heard anyone openly soliciting for the IRA and whether he had ever contributed to Republican causes. Whilst the trial was supposedly held to establish whether an alleged breach of the peace had taken place, defendants and witnesses found that what was on trial was their political views and in particular the anti-imperialist views of this newspaper, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
As for police 'evidence' at the trial: Chief Inspector James Lyons described how he and a mounted policeman became 'spontaneously apprehensive' when he allegedly heard Mike and Kirstin shouting 'Support Your IRA', 'Brits Out of Ireland' and 'Hands off Ireland'. Their evidence demonstrated conclusively who did the inflaming: all the police witnesses described how they were pelted with bottles and cans thrown by Celtic supporters shouting 'IRA All the Way' as the Glasgow 2 were arrested and dragged off.
Summing up, Sheriff Bell totally ignored the fact that not one of the police witnesses had attested to a breach of the peace. He found the Glasgow 2 guilty on the assumption that the police had been 'worried something might happen'! The Sheriff decided that Mike and Kirstin had shouted 'Support Your IRA' (despite their categorical denials that they had shouted this particular slogan) by pointing to the interview with an ex-IRA Volunteer in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! which begins 'we are proud to publish ...' Concluding, the sheriff pointed out that there are limits to free speech, and that the Glasgow 2 had abused their 'rights' to put forward their views. It is quite clear what these limits are: they are the interests of the British imperialist state in censoring any opposition to its interests, particularly its interests in the 6 counties of Ireland.
A militant campaign has been fought to defend the Glasgow 2. As well as the 1654 who have signed petitions 18 MPs and many other Labour movement organisations and individuals have signed statements demanding the dropping of all charges against the Glasgow 2. Scores of letters and telegrams were sent to the Procurator Fiscal calling on him to drop the charges. In the week before the trial Bob MacTaggart MP and Jack Ashton of the Scottish Executive of the CPGB headed a delegation to the Procurator Fiscal. A militant picket was held outside the Court.
The RCG has mounted such a widespread campaign not simply to defend the Glasgow 2. We know that far greater oppression and harassment faces Irish people and black people than that which FRFI supporters are suffering. Our purpose, all along, has been to defend the right to distribute communist, socialist and anti-imperialist propaganda to the working class. The working class, as it enters the enormous political battles which lie ahead will need to be able to produce, distribute and sell its own newspapers.
We still need your help in the struggle to defend the right of communists to sell their newspapers free from harassment by the police and courts. The Glasgow 2 are appealing against the guilty verdict and the campaign has already cost hundreds of pounds.
How you can aid the fight:
- Raise a motion in your TU branch or organisation protesting against the verdict.
- Send us letters of support telling us what you can do to help.
- Send us money. The fines total £275 and the Glasgow 2 need money to appeal against this verdict.
FRFI 8 January/February 1981