Stoke Newington Defence Group Leaflet 1972 - The Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain’s First Guerrilla Group TV -
Last August police raided a flat in Amhurst Road, Stoke Newington, North London. They captured four brothers and sisters, Jim Greenfield, Anna Mendelson, John Barker and Hilary Creek. Two others, Stuart Christie and Chris Bott were arrested upon allegedly entering the flat subsequent to the initial bust. All were charged with conspiring to cause explosions and were remanded in custody. The front pages of the media hinted that at last the Angry Brigade had been caught. In the following months, four more people were arrested and honoured with the same charge. They were Angie Weir, Kate McLean, Chris Allen and Pauline Conroy. Only one, a mother with a four month old baby, was granted bail.
In December the jury at the trial of Jake Prescott and Ian Purdie, both charged with conspiring to cause explosions with the rest of those in custody, returned their verdicts. Jake was found not guilty of specific acts of bombing but guilty of conspiracy. Judge Melford Stevenson, the armchair terrorist, gave him a fifteen year sentence. Ian was found not guilty. Both had been in custody for nine months before the trial.
The other ten came up for committal in the beginning of January. Two of them were informed that the Attorney General had decided that there was no evidence against them and had ordered that the charges be dropped for the moment. The rest went through four weeks of absolute boredom and were finally committed for trial. Angie, Kate and Hilary were granted bail, exiled to the provinces and placed under house arrest. The rest remain in prison.
At the Ian and Jake trial we were privileged to view the prosecution case against them all.
The Eight were in fact tried in their absence with both the defence and the prosecution assuming their guilt and the existence of the conspiracy, throughout the trial. Their charges relate to a conspiracy which allegedly involves much more than just those bombings claimed by the Angry Brigade. The state is also alleging that bombings and shootings claimed by the First of May Group, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Wild Bunch and Lotta Continua are also part of this conspiracy. In fact just about every single guerrilla action undertaken by groups from very different political areas within the movement over the past four years has been put down to them. The prosecution is attempting to create falsely the image that the political offensive carried out by the movement in the past four years is the work of a very small isolated gang of madmen.
The Stoke Newington Eight Defence Group has come together in solidarity with those charged. Until now we have been concentrating on organising prison visits, pushing out Conspiracy Notes, organising the lawyer scene and giving as much political and legal assistance to those intending to defend themselves as is possible in the circumstances.
The organisation around the legal defence is pretty well together now. There is no longer any question of political or legal compromise, either with the lawyers or within the court itself. There will now be two very clearly defined forces on trial: the oppressing class and the movement which it is trying to smash. The object shall be the attempt to create a political dialogue with the jury and to try and heighten the awareness of the power we have as a movement to destroy the control they have over our lives. This confrontation must not be confined to the totally unreal alienating atmosphere of the courtroom for in that situation it will be much simpler for the State to smash them. With the solidarity of a movement behind them they will be able to fight back in a much more meaningful way. Stoke Newington 8 Defence Group leaflet 1972
And then followed the trial of the so-called Stoke Newington 8. The longest criminal trial in legal history and certainly one of the most controversial. The Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain’s First Urban Guerrilla Group, BBC 1973