Highlights of Trial of Campsfield Nine

Defendants: Sunny Ozidede, Stanley Nwadike, Harrison Tubman, John Quaquah, Lucky Agbebaku, Enahoro Esemuze, Edward Onabanjo-Agoro, + 2 minors, one of whom is too ill too attend court and has had his trial stayed.

Solicitors: Blaxland (Sunny), Bright (Stanley), Shiekh (Harrison), Roberts (John), Macaulay (Lucky), Reilly (Enahoro), Davis (Edward), Hoskin (Sambou).

Further information on defendants available here

More extensive highlights of every day of the trial available here

‘Unreliable eye-witnesses’ of Group 4 in the trial of the Campsfield Nine

The trial of the Campsfield Nine collapsed after eleven days of trial with all nine acquitted. This is what the witnesses admitted in court in the order they appeared.

John Graham, Immigration Officer at Campsfield, had told the police that Sunny Ozidede had threatened him. In court he admitted that in fact he couldn’t recognise Sunny and that he could only put names to faces if someone else told him.

John Jasper, Campsfield House manager for Group 4, claimed that Group 4 had a mission statement saying that Group 4 had an anti-racist policy that detainees knew about. In court he admitted that the display board showing this was not in fact in an area which detainees were allowed into.

John Allen, Group 4 supervisor, was in charge of the removal of one of the detainees to a prison that morning which sparked off the protest. It turned out that a stranglehold was used to move this detainee:

Henry Blaxland: Do you agree that his hands were on his neck?

JA: No, but near neck. Point of hold is to secure head

HB: Do you agree it is very dangerous to hold neck

JA: There is a world of difference [between the two holds]. Obviously it’s not text book C&R

HB: Don’t you think that seeing this, the other detainees would think that he is being strangled.

JA: no answer

John Allen also admitted making an ‘undeliberate lie’ in court because he claimed he had never heard or used the expression ‘bumped out’ to say that a detainee was moved from Campsfield to a prison. In fact he had used the phrase twice in his statement to the police.

Mo Stone, Group 4 officer, claimed to the police that he watched through the door at detainees congregating to complain about the removal. In fact, from the CCTV video, it is clear that he looked once and briefly. He also mentioned defendants’ names in court which he had not referred to in his statements to the police and he exaggerated in court how many detainees were protesting outside. Most importantly, however, he admitted that it was he (and his partner) who had smashed the telephones in one of the day rooms.

DB: Were you in the ladies day room. The wall telephone was broken there. Did you break it?

MS: no

DB: Are you sure about that. Are you saying that if other witnesses say that they saw you break the telephone that they are liars? I put it to you that you personally smashed the telephone

MS: we did pull it apart.

DB: Where did you tell the police that? Why not?

MS: I don’t know

Mo Stone also claimed to ‘know’ the majority of the detainees in Campsfield. However, he had ONLY identified black West African males to the police despite the fact that the video evidence clearly showed that Asian and white detainees were also involved. At the time, there were 187 people in Campsfield House. 44 of them were black African males.

Mo also admitted that he had hit a detainee on the head with his PI24 baton. C&R techniques dictate that heads should not be hit, only limbs. Mo claimed that he "missed" the upper arm. He did not, however, report this to his supervisor which he should have done.

Tim Allen, Group 4 officer, was forced to admit that he had lied about being on the roof of Yellow Block on his own, and instead had two other officers there with him. The ‘verbal abuse’ that detainees were meant to have shouted at the gate was ‘we want our freedom’. For the case, Tim Allen showed that he could not recognise Stanley who he had accused of throwing things at him. He identified a man with a hat on the CCTV video and then admitted later that, indeed, that had not been Stanley. Like other witnesses, Tim Allen also made allegations in court that he had not made to the police, listing all the defendants when his statements only mentioned a few.

Des Wilkinson, Group 4 supervisor, looked foolish in court when he couldn’t remember which gate he had gone to during the disturbance. Nor could he identify people in the heat of the moment.

Jane Essery, Group 4 officer, was shown up as a liar in court. She had said to the police she was scared and had said to Group 4 she felt calm!

Henry Blaxland cross-examining

HB You were asked (in taped interview with Group 4) how you felt in the Ladies Day room. To the question "Did you feel threatened" you replied "No, I felt very calm actually" So did you feel threatened or calm? Why did you tell us one thing and your employers another?

JE I have never heard that tape and was not told it would be used in evidence.

(NB several of the Group 4 guards were taken aback by the use of their statements to Group 4 in court. Of course, when challenged, they had to say that they had also told Group 4 the ‘truth’ but perhaps it was more of the truth than they had told the police!)

Terence Morley, Group 4 guard, like others before him, chose to further his allegations in court. He said that Sunny had threatened to kill him - a statement he had never told the police (despite 4 statements in as many months) and never told Group 4 which suggests that his evidence in court was unreliable. He also admitted that he and Mo Stone had ‘smashed’ the telephones (rather than dismantle them as Mo had claimed).

Caryn Mitchell-Hill, Group 4 guard, lied about being alone in the doctor’s corridor and being threatened by a detainee. The CCTV clearly showed that she had never taken the route she claimed and at all times was accompanied by other officers. Furthermore she now claimed that the detainee who had threatened her was Sunny although ten months ago she had told the police she didn’t know his name. She also claimed to be able to tell a person’s nationality (eg. whether Nigerian or Gambian) from their colour of skin.

Paul Spencer, Group 4 guard, also chose to mention a defendant not named before in his statements to the police. This guard tried to beef up the case against Sambou - but actually, like the others, brought his entire testimony into question.

Chris Barry, Group 4 orderly, lied in court about threatening detainees with moving them to prison. Claimed he didn’t threaten people but in his statement to Group 4 he had admitted it. He had also described someone as Sunny who clearly did not match the photograph of Sunny on the day after. The Judge was forced to interject:

JUDGE Let me get this straight. You are saying now: ‘The person I have described on 20 August must have been somebody else.’?

CB yes

Chris Barry also claimed to have been hit on the head during the disturbance, and sprayed with a chemical and have been punched and kicked and had his shirt torn. Typically, the CCTV camera had a good close up of Chris Barry when he emerged from this so-called fracas which showed his shirt to be dry, unscathed and not even pulled out of shape. He himself was seen walking about on the roof of the building minutes after his so called concussion. Like his girlfriend, Caryn Mitchell-Hill, Chris Barry thought that colour revealed nationality and had changed his police statement from blaming Afro-Caribbeans to West Africans.

Andrew MacFadyen, Group 4 officer, admitted that he had made his identifications of the defendants from the backs and the tops (when he was on the roof) of their heads and had not seen their faces.

Sean Cane, Group 4 orderly, had to admit in court that he had been disciplined for rudeness to detainees and the only people he had accused were black Africans.

Robert Andrews, Group 4 orderly, had to admit in court that he couldn’t name Sunny at the time and only put a name to him in later statements to the police (ie after having talked about it with other officers). In court he had to admit that his identification of the defendants could have been ‘mistaken’.

Paul Bean, used to work for Group 4 now a prison officer, said in court that he drew his baton and hit a detainee only after he was hit but his statement to the police, only four days after the event, said that he had drawn in baton first. He also admitted that he had seen the detainee who was being removed that morning by the head. Of the stranglehold used..

PB That’s not a true straight hold. From what I can remember, Mr Galloway was trying to calm down the detainee, using his personal skills to calm him down.

Henry Blaxland Does using personal skills mean putting his hands around the detainee’s neck?

PB Can’t see whether his hands were round the neck or head.

Paul Bean was also forced to admit that the person he had said was Stanley was clearly not after watching the video evidence in court. In the end, after cross-examination of all the defence counsel he had to admit that he could not be sure of his identification of the people involved.