Update on anarchist prisoner Toby Shone

Nieuws, gepost door: nn op 24/04/2022 04:06:54

Wanneer: 24/04/2022 - 17:36

Anarchist prisoner Toby Shone got ghosted to a private prison in Wales recently and faces a restrictive and ridiculous Serious Organised Crime Prevention Order (SOCPO) upon his eventual release ...

Back in 1997, three editorial members of 'Green Anarchist' magazine were each given three year prison sentences for reporting on militant direct action, the charge being "conspiracy to incite criminal damage''. The GANDALF trial resulted in a flagrant miscarriage of justice and messages of solidarity flooded in from all over the world; the sentences were revoked and the three were released several months later. As a consortium of over 300 groups and individuals involved in the UK alternative press said in their support letter: "It is vital that the press - alternative, independent, radical, liberal and establishment - unite to defend the basic freedoms under attack in this case: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It is not for the police to determine the limits of our discussions". [1]

Flash forward to last year when an anarchist was arrested at gunpoint in the Forest of Dean by anti-terrorist police. My friend Toby was arrested because of the contents of a website, which had already been taken offline earlier in the year after Dutch police impounded the servers. Toby was remanded to HMP Wandsworth where he was held in solitary confinement; he was also refused access to a lawyer for six weeks. Repeatedly interrogating him, the police attempted to get him to confess to various direct actions in the Bristol area all because he was allegedly connected to the website, 325.nostate.net, which like many other news aggregate websites receives and transmits activist statements. [2]

At trial in October 2021, the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) declined to offer any evidence on the terror charges under which Toby had been apprehended and remanded for eight months, so they were immediately dropped. Toby did not walk free however, since he was convicted for various drugs found when places were raided at the same time as his arrest. As his representatives from Bindmans and Garden Court Chambers commented, Toby had used the drugs to deal with cancer and depression and had only supplied them to friends. [3] [4]

Unlike back in 1997 with the GANDALF trial, the support for Toby has been almost non-existent, which is for me a real condemnation of the radical left in the UK. Less surprisingly, coverage in the mainstream press was pitiful: you could count the stories on one hand; 'The Independent' reported on "anarchist terror charges against a drug dealer". [5] The general lack of media attention has continued this year, despite Toby writing an update from prison detailing his barbaric treatment when he was taken for his annual MRI scan. [5] [6] His judicial battles are also not over yet, since although he was only convicted of minor drug offences, the state is pushing for a Serious Organised Crime Prevention Order (SOCPO) to be made against him. The case was due to be heard recently but was pushed back to May. [6]

In 2019, the UK Government set up the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, saying "With rising disinformation and threats against the media, the UK's strong and independent press is a beacon of freedom that this Government is committed to supporting and preserving. The Committee will champion journalists' ability to safely carry out their important roles in society and to continue to hold the powerful to account. This is part of our broader commitment to ensuring the future sustainability of high-quality, public interest news." [7] Obviously, these fine aspirations do not extend to the treatment of UK anarchists accused of running a website. Rather, at Toby's trial Judge Christopher Parker QC told him he had "lived for some considerable time without any visible legitimate means of financial support" and had "enjoyed an alternative and communal lifestyle outside the mainstream". [8] Based on pretty much nothing more than this condemnation of his way of life, the state now wants to restrict Toby's movements using the SOCPO; in his own words: "The order would put me under a form of house arrest for up to 5 years when I finally get released with a punishment of up to 5 years if I breach the order. The order would control and monitor my daily movements, contact with others, residence, usage of money, devices, international travel and so on. It demands precise information be given to the cops of all my friends, contacts and loved ones and is simply a means to monitor and criminalise my friendships and living environments." [9] As 'Dark Nights' observes, the SOCPO is designed to be breached and will no doubt be extended into the future again and again. [10] It represents a disgusting fishing expedition against an anarchist who remains innocent of all the terrorism charges he was accused. If this SOCPO is granted, what will come next?

There are currently 111 SOCPOs in operation in the UK. As the GANDALF solidarity statement back in 1997 said, "It is not the reporting of direct action which incites further direct action; environmental degradation, animal abuse, economic injustice, attacks on freedom, weapons exports, nuclear weapons, lack of democratic process - these, among many others, are the inciting factors.'' [11] Yet it only gets worse: if Labour was in power, according to Angela Rayner's recent comments, she would urge police to "shoot your terrorists and ask questions second". [12]

As of April 2022, Toby has been ghosted to a private prison in North Wales. You can write to him at Toby Shone A7645EP, HM Prison Parc, Heol Hobcyn John, Coity, Bridgend CF35 6AP. [13] 

Stay strong Toby!!


1 https://www.mcspotlight.org/campaigns/current/gandalf/list.html
2 https://archive.fo/325.nostate.net
3 https://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/news/cps-drop-terrorism-charges-against-alleged-anarchist
4 https://www.bindmans.com/news/cps-drop-terrorism-charges-against-alleged-administrator-of-anarchist-website
5 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anarchist-terror-case-gloucestershire-dropped-b1937594.html
6 https://darknights.noblogs.org/post/2022/01/27/uk-about-the-total-surveillance-order-facing-anarchist-comrade-toby-shone-en-de-es-fr-it-pl/
7 https://pressgazette.co.uk/uk-to-establish-committee-on-journalist-safety/
8 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/anarchist-terror-case-gloucestershire-dropped-b1937594.html
9 https://enoughisenough14.org/2022/02/04/about-the-total-surveillance-order-facing-anarchist-comrade-toby-shone-uk/
10 https://darknights.noblogs.org/post/2022/01/05/bristol-uk-toby-shone-speaks-from-the-dungeons-of-bristol-prison-explaining-his-case-en-es-fr-de-po-ru/#more-1444
11 https://www.mcspotlight.org/campaigns/current/gandalf/list.html
12 https://www.thecanary.co/uk/2022/02/17/angela-rayner-wants-cops-to-shoot-terrorists-first-and-ask-questions-later/
13 https://www.thecanary.co/feature/2022/04/19/the-police-want-to-impose-a-...

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