The end is in sight for Tommy Robinson, at least in this court case, in which he is suing Cambridgeshire Police for harassment. Court heard the last of the witness statements today and the submission from the QC for the defence, Stephen Clements
PC Steve Mason was called to the stand by Alison Gurden. He explained that as a ‘spotter’ for Bedfordshire Police he had known Tommy for some time. It is his job for “99%” of Luton Towns games, including the one in question, away to Cambridge United, to asses the threat from ‘risk supporters’ both on the day and before the match. His detailed testimony basically boiled down to arguing that neither Tommy nor the set of Luton fans also in the pub posed any kind of thereat to public order and that the problems arose when they were asked to leave by Cambridgeshire Police at 6:30pm, half an hour before the end of the match they were watching in the pub.
Gurden and Clements clashed over whether Mason’s opinion of the issuing of the Section 35 dispersal order was appropriate was relevant. Tellingly, Gurden told the Judge that this was the “crux of the matter”, later in his submission, Clements incorrectly argued that “no-one” had questioned the “eminently sensible” nature of Cambs Police deciding to disperse the supporters at 6:30pm.
Gurden clearly had questioned that, referring to it as the “crux of the matter” and even the Judge was moved to ask Clements during his submission if it may not have been more sensible to allow the supporters an extra half-hour. It seemed to me that Clements wanted to downplay the importance of this issue because it is by far the weakest point in his defence of Cambridgeshire Police.
Clements attempted to turn Mason’s testimony on its head, arguing that in fact it proved how consistent the police case and testimony was. I agree with Gurden, the crux of the matter is whether the police had reasonable grounds to suspect that Tommy or indeed any other fans were likely to cause a public order issue. If they did, then the police case is essentially sound as even if they were wrong, the law allows them the latitude to act, however, if they did not, and Mason’s testimony casts reasonable doubt on that, then, of course, they acted outside of the powers that the law allows them.
Mason’s testimony also casts considerable doubt on another key claim made by Clements, that Tommy’s claim regarding harassment is unsound as this is only one incident. Mason told the court that roughly 75% of the police forces whom he liaises with DO ask him if Tommy Robinson has tickets for the game. In other words, despite Tommy not being generally determined as being a ‘risk supporter’, he is still the focus of police attention just because he is Tommy Robinson.
I find it hard to believe that people are aware of who Tommy Robinson is but yet have no idea what his views are on Islam are as they are principally what he is known for, another false dichotomy introduced by Clements. Mason confirmed that he advised Cambs Police not to proceed with the dispersal and that Tommy was causing “no issues”, that everything was fine, up until the point that Cambs Police implemented there allegedly “eminently sensible” plan.
It seems to me that when these decisions were made, only one set of information and advice was considered and the only logical conclusion is that they were therefore made according to subjective subconscious bias and a prerjudgement of the nature of Tommy Robinson.
This is a delicate moment because if Tommy loses it would, I submit, send a signal that the police are not ultimately accountable for the decisions that they make, indeed, it will send the worrying signal that we do live in a “police state” as Tommy put it to me after the trial, he was visibly shaken by the replaying of a video which showed his children’s distress, and that is something that should concern us all.