[R-G] UK: £1m terrorism case is thrown out by judge
info at cinox.demon.co.uk
Tue Mar 2 03:29:32 MST 2004
Tuesday March 2, 2004
The Guardian (UK)
£1m terrorism case is thrown out by judge
Continuing proceedings against six for campaigning human rights in Turkey
would bring British justice into disrepute, DPP is told
Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
A terrorist prosecution estimated to have cost up to £1m collapsed in
disarray yesterday when a crown court judge threw out the case against six
activists for human rights in Turkey.
Judge Richard Haworth at Kingston crown court, west London, said: "Were this
prosecution to continue, it would bring the administration of justice into
disrepute amongst right-thinking people and offend this court's sense of
propriety and justice."
Lawyers for the six learned only four days before the trial was to start
that the consent of the attorney general - a requirement for prosecutions
under the Terrorism Act 2000 which involve a country other than the UK - had
never been given.
At the last minute, the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who was about to
leave for a trip abroad, gave a belated consent to conspiracy charges in
case the specific charges were thrown out by the judge.
The six accused - three women and three men - were prosecuted for being
members of a proscribed organisation and allegedly raising funds to finance
A week before the trial, they produced a letter from the Home Office
assuring them that the organisation they were working for had never been
banned. But the prosecution went ahead with the case.
It argued that activities carried out in the name of the DHKC (Devrimci Halk
Kurtulus Cephesi), the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front
organisation - which campaigns against the abuse of the human rights of
political prisoners in Turkey - were also done on behalf of the DHKP-C
(Devrimci Halk Kurtulus Partisi Cephesi), the Revolutionary People's
Liberation Party Front. The latter, similarly named body, is deemed by the
Home Office to be the DHKC's terrorist wing and proscribed under the 2000
The case against British citizens Gurkan Gur and Rory O'Driscoll, and
Turkish citizens Allaatin Kalender, Songul Ozgur, Selver Kapan and Birten
Kalayci, was thrown out after a 10-day hearing attended by three QCs and
seven junior barristers, all paid from public funds.
The defendants' lawyers, led by Tim Owen QC and Stephen Kamlish QC, argued
that the prosecution was an abuse of process because the six had been told
that their organisation was not banned, and because the attorney general's
consent had not been given.
The judge said the crown court had no power to look into the absence of the
attorney general's consent. But the Home Office letter amounted to a promise
that, provided the defendants did not break the law, working for the DHKC
was not a crime.
That promise "gave a green light to the defendants to carry on with their
activities", the judge said.
The six were subjected to months of special branch surveillance, and two of
them were stopped several times at Dover when bringing back political
magazines to sell.
Defence lawyers also discovered that the prosecution had not been authorised
personally by the then director of public prosecutions, Sir David
Calvert-Smith, despite an assurance to MPs when the bill was going through
parliament that the DPP would take decisions personally.
Hossein Zahir, of Birnberg Peirce and Partners, solicitors for the six,
said: "The decision to prosecute this case was taken by a branch crown
prosecutor. Neither the DPP nor the attorney general was consulted, in
breach of a clear promise [to parliament] that both would be involved in all
Terrorism Act prosecutions.
"When the problem was discovered, the attorney general gave a hurried
consent, which the judge effectively decided was an affront to justice."
Mr Gur, a journalist who works as a bus driver, said the case was
"tragi-comic". He added: "We weren't expecting it at this stage, but we
strongly believed at the end of the day we would be acquitted.
"We have been carrying out democratic activities, campaigning for
The attorney general's office said last night: "The judge's ruling was not
based on any decision that the prosecution was legally or evidentially
wrong, but that the defendants were entitled to rely on a letter from the
Home Office saying that their organisation was not proscribed. Even so, the
Home Office later took a different view."
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