BREAKING: Four more activists walk free: trial over ‘criminal damage’ dropped

Feb 8, 2022 | 1 comment

  • Four Palestine Action activists have seen their upcoming trial dropped, in what is becoming a regular occurence; the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) recognising that they have little chance of securing prosecution against individuals taking conscientious action.
  • Activists blockaded the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire, in November 2020, preventing operations at the drone-engine factory.
  • This follows two trials dropped in January – after a ‘not guilty’ verdict delivered in December. Over the past 2 months, the CPS have failed to secure successful prosecution against any of the 11 activists whom they had handed charges to.

Another trial of Palestine Action activists has been dropped, the third in a month, as the CPS realise they had little chance of securing a conviction against four activists who blockaded Elbit Systems’ Shenstone drone engines factory. The activists halted operations at UAV Engines Shenstone in November 2020, on the 103rd anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration, taking action to undermine British complicity in Israeli war crimes.

The ‘criminal damage’ charges that they were handed kept them on restrictive bail conditions, until the trial was finally dropped on Tuesday the 14th February 2022, less than one week before the trial was due to begin. This is following a regular pattern of behaviour by the CPS, after Palestine Action won their first ever trial, with a ‘not guilty’ verdict handed to activists in December 2021. In January, two trials were dropped – one by the judge, citing ‘abuse of process’ by the CPS, and another dropped due to an ‘unrealistic prospect of conviction’. A third trial has now been dropped, as Elbit and the CPS surely reconsidering their prospects for success across the remaining activists’ trials scheduled throughout 2022.

Prior to the December trial, it was a regular experience for activists to find their charges had been dropped in the run up to court dates. Not only does it appear that this tactic was to protect Elbit from scrutiny in court – with them reluctant to disclose relevant documents – but it is also evident now that the charges given to activists are unlikely to result in a conviction. With even the British courts system able to recognise the proportionality and necessity of shutting down Elbit Systems, activists have been further vindicated in having taken action.

The next trial scheduled to take place is from the 14th-18th March, as two activists are due to appear in court in relation to action taken at the Elbit Ferranti site in Oldham – a factory that has now been permanently shut down after a year and a half of action taken against it.