Has the Administration of Justice been suspended without us being told?
A Bristol man has been charged with a Public Order offence in Bristol Magistrates Court whilst attending an anti-covid protest on 14th November 2020.
Mr Campbell, from Downend, Bristol was charged with “taking part in a public assembly and knowingly failing to comply with a condition imposed” contrary to s.14(5) Public Order Act 1986. Dressed smartly and making an application in person under Articles 11 & 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 at his first hearing, Mr Campbell looked comfortable and composed before Judge Lynne Matthews. The first hearing is where Human Rights issues are brought up and Mr Campbell was not expected to attend. He attended with the intention of raising an issue under s.6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 that prohibits a public body from acting in any way that is incompatible with a Convention right. He confirmed his name and address and his not guilty plea.
Mr Campbell began to assert that his rights under the Human Rights Act were violated. However, the Judge shockingly said that she was not there to hear that case and insisted that his charge was not under the Public Order Act and that it was actually under Coronavirus Regulations instead. The Judge also claimed that she had no paperwork to address the Human Rights Act despite Mr Campbell delivering them, in person, to the Court before Christmas to ensure that the Human Rights Application was, in fact, in the file for the Judge to see.
Mr Campbell claimed that his charge was not under Coronavirus Regulations and the Judge decided that the correct charge was actually Coronavirus violations and proceeded the hearing on this basis. This means that Mr Campbell was not able to argue properly under the new charge as it seems that the new charge was made there and then by the Judge! After being advised that his conduct would be seen favourably if he admitted his guilt, Mr Campbell declared he was not guilty of either change but the Judge found him guilty of Coronavirus Regulations and not of the offence he was originally charged with.
In a shockingly unprepared hearing, Mr Campbells plea was “not guilty” but the Judge then asked him if he had anything to say regarding the Coronavirus regulations and Mr Campbell said he might be guilty of violating those regulations so his words were then accepted as an admission of guilt.
It is astonishing that a man is charged with one offence, then found guilty of another when he didnt even have that charge initially, ignored his Human Rights application and turned into a trial on no notice at all.
What has the world come to when the judicial system acts in an arbitrary way like this? Mr Campbell said he was considering his legal options and that he was “astonished” at what he felt was a clear case of goal post moving and arbitrary legal process. There was only the one Magistrate and the CPS did not attend to present any case. It seems justice had a day off for Mr Campbell.
Mr Campbell leaves Bristol Magistrates’ Court after the hearing