Edward Colston statue case could be sent to appeal court

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Should the four accused have been found guilty?

  • Yes - criminal damage is criminal damage there were other legal ways to get it removed.

  • No - the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.


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Chippy_Tea

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The four accused claimed in court that the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it, if this is the case does it mean any statue that relates to something someone decides is a hate crime is fair game and the person/people causing criminal damage to it will not be prosecuted?



The Attorney General is "carefully considering" whether to refer the Bristol Edward Colston statue case to the Court of Appeal.

Four people were cleared of criminal damage at Bristol Crown Court for toppling the monument in June 2020 during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Suella Braverman said trial by jury was "an important guardian of liberty" but the result was "causing confusion".
The referral would not affect the acquittal, she added.

The verdict cannot be overturned and the defendants cannot be retried without fresh evidence.
Ms Braverman said she would decide whether to use powers that, as Attorney General, allow her to seek a Court of Appeal hearing so senior judges "have the opportunity to clarify the law for future cases".

Criminal justice debate
Milo Ponsford, 26, Rhian Graham, 30, Jake Skuse, 33, and Sage Willoughby, 22, were charged after the memorial to the slave trader was toppled on 7 June 2020. The statue was thrown into Bristol's harbour shortly after.
The defendants are all from Bristol apart from Mr Ponsford, who is from Hampshire, and were cleared of criminal damage after a trial.
The verdict has prompted a debate about the criminal justice system after the defendants opted to stand trial in front of a jury and did not deny involvement in the incident.
The defendants claimed in court that the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.
Colston was a member of the Royal African Company, which transported about 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas.
On his death in 1721, he bequeathed his wealth to charities and his legacy can still be seen on Bristol's streets, memorials and buildings.
But the prosecution argued it was "irrelevant" who Colston was and the case was one of straightforward criminal damage.

Several MPs expressed concern after Thursday's verdict, including former communities secretary Robert Jenrick.
"If you've broken the law and committed criminal damage you should be punished," he tweeted.
"If the jury is a barrier to ensuring they are punished then that needs to be addressed."
But, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said juries were the "great sublime protector of liberties".
Raj Chada, who represented Mr Skuse, said the "defendants should never have been prosecuted".


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VW911

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I hope that there is a re-trial.
It was criminal damage, whatever the "supposed motive".

I suspect that my neighbour is an ugly witch. Would I get away with burning her at the stake?
 

Scrattajack

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Political meddling in judicial matters is a worrying development. Smacks of Trump. Whatever your preferred verdict, it's been made so that's that. The only time when it's not is when the jury has been compromised or there's new evidence. Either way, this doesn't apply in a criminal damage case. Shows what a shambles this government is, it wasn't long ago Raab talked about ensuring the right to a trial by jury and now the Attorney General undermines it.
 

Chippy_Tea

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I hope that there is a re-trial.
It was criminal damage, whatever the "supposed motive".
I suspect that my neighbour is an ugly witch. Would I get away with burning her at the stake?
Unfortunately it doesn't look like that will happen -

From the article in the OP -
The verdict cannot be overturned and the defendants cannot be retried without fresh evidence.
Ms Braverman said she would decide whether to use powers that, as Attorney General, allow her to seek a Court of Appeal hearing so senior judges "have the opportunity to clarify the law for future cases".
 

Chippy_Tea

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So basically these 4 get away with criminal damage and now the law will be changed so anyone in future that tears down a statue because they find the presence of the statue a hate crime will be punished.

Another contender for the "You couldn't make it up" thread.
 

Flat Foot

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Additional reading:


 

Chippy_Tea

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Please please please everyone, think about what you're demanding if you want a retrial because you think the wrong verdict was reached.
I thought as it says in the OP they cannot be retired.

I am not calling for a retrial good on them for working the present law to their advantage.

They do need to change the law so that people cannot cause criminal damage whenever they see it as justified.
 

Clint

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Please please please everyone, think about what you're demanding if you want a retrial because you think the wrong verdict was reached.

That's North Korea stuff.
...and Brexit.
 

Flat Foot

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I thought as it says in the OP they cannot be retired.
They can't without fresh evidence, but people are calling for it. Including post #2

I am not calling for a retrial good on them for working the present law to their advantage.

They do need to change the law so that people cannot cause criminal damage whenever they see it as justified.
I'm not sure you honestly mean that, eg breaking a car window because the driver is having a heart attack.

At this point you'll probably yell "obviously it'll exclude...." but that is why law should be drafted carefully and with many readings in both the Commons and scrutiny in the Lords, not created in a reactionary fashion
 

DavidDetroit

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If the statue was erected legally, it needs to be removed legally. Doing otherwise entertains a mob-justice atmosphere and that can't work. By doing it legally, the word gets spread far and wide and respect for the law remains intact.
We had plenty of statues toppled. I'm sympathetic to the cause and think the glorification of undesirables has no place in society.
An interesting graph here in the US clearly depicts how a lot of racist statues were erected during times where racial equality was being sought.
 

Flat Foot

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As for the poll, I can't answer it with the current options.

I don't think the "out" within the law regarding hate crimes is a bad one. If I'm on the school run with my daughter and see a racist sign that loads of kids are walking by and feel the urge to rip it down, should I be prosecuted?

Does this mean I think all statues are fair game? Not at all. And I wasn't privy to the trial or what the jury actually felt made them not guilty (it potentially wasn't even this)

People will of course say "they should go through official channels", but Colston has been a polarising figure for some considerable time. There have been debates, petitions, protests (on both sides, eg when the Colston Hall was renamed), but the Merchant Venturers (look them up) hold considerable sway and block anything/any changes they don't like.
 

Chippy_Tea

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BTW there was a big debate about Colston on 5 live and although this has been all about the slave trade he is also well known for stuff that rarely gets mentioned. (but of course this doesn't sell papers)


Colston supported and endowed schools, houses for the poor, almshouses, hospitals and Anglican churches in Bristol, London and elsewhere. His name features widely on Bristol buildings and landmarks.[7][15] Colston used his money and power to promote order in the form of High Anglicanism in the Church of England and oppose Anglican Latitudinarians, Roman Catholics, and dissenter Protestants.[16]

In Bristol, he founded almshouses in King Street and Colstons Almshouses on St Michael's Hill, endowed Queen Elizabeth's Hospital school, and helped found Colston's Hospital, a boarding school which opened in 1710, leaving an endowment to be managed by the Society of Merchant Venturers for its upkeep.[3] He gave money to schools in Temple (one of which went on to become St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School) and other parts of Bristol, and to several churches and the cathedral.[3][17]

David Hughson, writing in 1808, described Colston as "the great benefactor of the city of Bristol, who, in his lifetime, expended more than 70,000L. [£] in charitable institutions",[18] equivalent to £5,581,350 in 2020.[19]
 

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