Compared to the vibrant scene when Hollie and Anne last appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice for the Appeal hearing on 2nd March, our May-Day demo in the same location was a quietish affair. A handful of supporters braved what looked likely to be another day of torrential rain, yet happily it wasn't – there was even the odd ray of sunshine! But between us we managed to part with several hundred leaflets and once again, no vehicle that passed by could have failed to miss the eye-catching bright-green banner reading JUSTICE FOR HOLLIE GREIG! Many thanks to all who turned out.
We were there by arrangement with Caul Grant in the context of his 2 week-long protest under the auspices of the Campaign for Truth and Justice www.ctj.org.uk, the object of which was to bring to together all kinds of people and groups who had suffered injustice in the courts and to name actual judges, if it could be shown with properly supporting evidence that they had broken the law themselves.
The names of 9 judges for a start appeared on Caul’s own publicity, a somewhat startling tally but I was assured the proofs are cast-iron. In Hollie’s case, apart from our gripe against a certain Sheriff in Scotland, the focus is more on the judicial system itself and especially the systematic usurpation of litigants’ human rights in the Family Courts, and the fact that those courts do not have to examine evidence to the standard that children and the vulnerable surely deserve – this is the main problem.
A long-term champion of those battling for justice in the Family Courts considers that it would be better all round if these courts were upgraded to the level of criminal courts and made subject to the same standards regarding the testing and scrutiny of evidence and the quality of the ‘expert witnesses’ on whom Councils rely to boost their case for taking children or vulnerable adults into care.
Back to May-Day, I had my megaphone with me in case a crowd developed but was thankful it didn’t, therefore could talk to recipients of the leaflet individually which is always very interesting as well as often fruitful in terms of winning new supporters for the cause. In such a location as the RCJ there was no telling who might pass by!
We were using the same well-designed and effective leaflet given out in Aberdeen with a sticker over part of it explaining in red type "50,000 copies of this leaflet were given out in Aberdeen in April. RESULT: Robert Green's release on 17th May. High-level, organised paedophilia is not just a Scottish problem, it's UK-wide. Help beat this horrible crime and protect children - support Hollie Greig".
I was pleased to notice that many people taking the leaflet actually read at least the first page before folding it into quarters (I hate it when people do that – our beautiful leaflet!!) and stuffing it into their pocket or bag. A couple of people actually sat down on the steps alongside the court, read it from front to back, then gave us a thumbs-up!
Great thanks yet again to the gentleman from the Scotland who funded the printing of 60,000 copies of this historic leaflet and to all who had a hand in its production and distribution. Hopefully the Scottish team parted with the last few hundred last week in the context of the Aberdeen City Council elections. Robert is sure that this leafleting blitz and all the demos on the streets and outside the prison as well as his daily burgeoning mail-bag and people writing to their MPs etc. are what have secured his early release and he warmly thanks everyone who has participated in this effort over the past 2+ months.
Highlights of the May-Day demo included a visit from a reporter from Channel 4 News who said he'd been following the story and he'd come along to ascertain who could speak for the campaign. I gave him my contact details and he said he'd be in touch. Well, I've had that kind of encounter before and have learned not to get my hopes up!
The legal folk going in and out of the RCJ mostly swept past us, being engrossed in their own discussions, nevertheless a few did take a leaflet and were courteous. One having glanced at it and got the gist said "yes I know it's a bad business but realistically I don't know if there's anything that can be done". "Well, doing nothing never made anything any better, did it?” I observed and quoted Edmund Burke’s famous dictum “All that is needed for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing”. "You're right," said the lawyer, an older gentleman who might have had the seed of morality implanted in him while young, but then had contracted what I call the “English disease”, a kind of resigned pragmatism – "this is the way the world is, we don't like it but we can’t change it, because it's always been like this....".
It appears our brief exchange might have given him food for thought as I observed him continuing to peruse the leaflet as he walked off down the street.
Then, a little group of three ladies and a gentleman came by and hovered around the placard reading NO PAEDOPHILIA OR COVER-UP OF PAEDOPHILIA - WHY IS SHROPSHIRE COUNCIL SPENDING PUBLIC FUNDS PROTECTING SCOTTISH PAEDOPHIILES?
So I went over to them and they said "we're from Shropshire!". I told them the story of how Hollie and Anne had come to live in the Oswestry-Shrewsbury area to escape harassment in Scotland. They'd felt safe at last in their small house in Ruyton outside Shrewsbury, until suddenly, in June 2010 the Council and police had raided their home and smashed it up! They are unable to afford to put right thousands of pounds' worth of damage to their home. But in any case Hollie was severely frightened by the raid. The Council were also trying to take Hollie away from her mum and put her into to care.
The 4 Salopians were very shocked and asked why hadn't they heard about this story? so I said well, needless to say it's not the kind of story the Council wants the people of Shropshire to hear about. The Shropshire Star were interested and did try to report on it but it appears someone must have passed a word to the editor... I told the little group that actually I was planning an action in Shrewsbury on 2nd June, the 2nd anniversary of the raid and if they would kindly sign my contact-sheet I could let them know the exact location and the time. They were happy to do so, so I also gave them a bunch of leaflets to give to their friends and neighbours and said I looked forward to seeing them again on 2nd June!
Several of those who took the leaflets were tourists as might be expected but no matter – paedophilia is not confined to the UK. A Dutch father with 2 teenage sons asked who was Hollie Greig and what had happened to her? so I explained she’d been the victim of a paedophile ring and was trying to get her former abusers brought to justice.
"We have a problem in the UK with paedophile rings and the police not doing their job of investigating them".
To which the Dutchman said darkly "it's not just in UK" and passed swiftly on. I felt he could have said a lot more had he not had his sons with him…
Half-way through the demo we spotted the traditional May-Day march proceeding down Kingsway past the Aldwych so a few went over to leaflet it as it passed by and rapidly returned empty-handed. Was it my imagination or was this year's march much longer and more numerous than usual? Reports from European cities also indicate that a significantly much larger number of people turned out to demonstrate this year than ever before. Could something be stirring amidst the grass-roots?!
With the sense that EVERYONE with any kind of issue against the system was on the streets on May Day 2012, we packed up our demo outside the Royal Courts of (In)Justice and proceeded to the next mustering station a few hundred yards up Chancery Lane in High Holborn, to the offices of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, stopping briefly en route to talk to a barrister who seemed to be already aware of the campaign and was keen to offer free legal advice if we needed it – thanks! – and to give an interview to a couple of students from City University who were collating a film on the issue of the cutting back of legal aid. Certainly our 3 litigants have been completely reliant on legal aid and its removal will be the final nail in the coffin of a just society.
Outside the IPCC a crowd of some 50 were already listening intently to speakers on the theme of police dereliction of duty and the failure of the IPCC to correct that. The common opinion was that the IPPC needs rapidly abolishing. With BBC cameras whirring in the background I joined the queue of people waiting to talk to the crowd and put in a word for Hollie and Robert and against the Scottish cousin of the IPPC, the PCCS.
But in fact we should also be complaining to the IPCC about the police raids on Robert’s, Anne and Hollie’s and now Rusty’s homes. The problem is Hollie’s story is such a huge one and there has been just so much official irregularity all the way through that condensing it into a few minutes is well-nigh impossible but I did my best, bearing in mind that this was a largely new audience who knew nothing of the story:
May Day was not the only day Hollie supporters were at the Royal Courts of Justice as the Campaign for Truth and Justice protest went on for 2 solid weeks. We came along in support when we could – thanks to those who assisted me in that. More Hollie leaflets given out, and all in all a terrific effort by Caul and team. Onwards and upwards!
* Apologies for the delay in publishing this report