Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Mark Barnsley
Mark Barnsley

Destroy Barnsley's Dirty Dozen

Activists protest at 12 year false imprisonment of Sheffield anarchist

8th January 2001

Approximately 20 people entered the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) offices in Sheffield on December 19 to protest at the continued imprisonment of Sheffield anarchist Mark Barnsley. Barnsley was imprisoned for a staggering 12 years after being convicted of assault charges after defending himself against a drunken attack back in 1994.

The attack happened outside a Sheffield pub following an argument between Barnsley - who was having a drink with a female friend and his young daughter - and several students who had been throwing insults. As the verbal exchange heated up the gang of students attacked Barnsley, with one of them pulling a knife which Barnsley managed to grab off him. Although the jury accepted Barnsley did not start the violence, the judge gave him a 12 year sentence for assault after he injured some of the students during the scrap. Campaigners say the grossly disproportionate prison sentence was due to Barnsley being known to police as a working class anarchist activist. According to supporters, Barnsley has been beaten up by prison warders on several occasions during the seven years he has so far served in a multitude of high and maximum security prisons.

Comedian Mark Thomas is one of the high profile supporters of Barnsley's right to a fair trial and immediate freedom: "Mark's crime is to be a local activist and working class. To the judge and the police, the attack on Mark meant they could get rid of someone they saw as undesirable. The actions of the state have made Mark Barnsley a political prisoner. I support the campaign to free Mark Barnsley."

Current prison procedure in the UK means that Barnsley faces even more time in prison because his continued refusal to accept that he committed an unjustified crime: "I am an innocent man and freedom is my right. I am not prepared to compromise myself by submitting to any form of conditional release. If that means spending extra years incarcerated in top security prisons, then it is a price I am prepared to pay, albeit regrettably. My life has been completely destroyed by the terrible injustice that I have suffered, all that I have left are my principles and integrity and I am not prepared to compromise them by bending my knee to the parole board."

"Despite my 6 long years of imprisonment I remain unbroken by the system and committed to fighting injustice. The circumstances of my wrongful conviction are so blatant that they will not hold up to the slightest honest scrutiny. That I have already spent 5 years trying to achieve some semblance of justice is in itself a stark indictment of the British legal and judicial system."

The Sheffield activists who occupied the offices of the Crown Prosecution Service in December to highlight his case handed out leaflets to employees and a hung a banner outside the building proclaiming "Free Mark Barnsley". However, with the local police station situated right next door, police officers were quick to arrive.

In total 16 people were arrested an held for up to ten hours with all of them charged with "conspiracy to burgle, with intent". They have been bailed to appear at Hull Magistrates (as they cannot be prosecuted by Sheffield CPS!) on January 9.

A well presented pamphlet about Mark Barnsley's case entitled "Beaten Up, Fitted Up, Locked Up" is available for £3 from: PO Box 381 Huddersfield HD1 3XX.

All proceeds go to his freedom fund.

Or snail mail info and support, to and from: JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY Campaign c/o 145-149 Cardigan Rd Leeds LS6 1U

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