JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY
CAMPAIGN BULLETIN - JULY 2002
MARK BARNSLEY RELEASED FROM PRISON !
We are overjoyed to announce that miscarriage of justice prisoner Mark Barnsley was finally released from Whitemoor prison on the morning of Monday 24th June 2002.
As you may have already heard, Mark walked out of maximum security HMP Whitemoor to loud cheers and applause from waiting supporters. Friends, eager to welcome Mark out of prison had travelled from around the country and included an official delegation from the National Union of Mineworkers, complete with their National Union banner.
After having his first decent breakfast in 8 years at a local cafe and thanking everyone for coming, Mark set off back to South Yorkshire where he will be living for the foreseeable future. He was later reunited with his children. Mark’s youngest daughter who is now 8 years old, last saw him outside a prison when she was just 6 weeks old.
After spending over 8 years in just about every Maximum security prison the system has to offer, Mark is in good spirits and obviously glad to be finally out. Mark and his campaign would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported him over his 8 long years of wrongful imprisonment.
Whilst Mark tries to rebuild his life and adjust to living in the outside world again, the Justice for Mark Barnsley campaign will continue to help him get the justice which is long overdue. Mark has been released after serving two thirds of his 12 year prison sentence but he has yet to clear his name and have his wrongful conviction overturned. Prior to his release Mark refused to sign his licence on the principle that he is an innocent man and freedom is his right.
Before Mark was even released, the Police in South Yorkshire tried to intimidate local supporters. In a very obvious attempt to make things even harder for Mark, the place where he was intending to live upon his release was visited by the local ‘Police Intelligence Unit’ (Special Branch). This sadly resulted in Mark losing his new home before he was even out of prison. Thanks to friends and supporters rallying round though, a local alternative was quickly arranged so that Mark’s release could go ahead and he at least has a decent place to stay. This action by the Police is obviously of concern to us and we will continue to closely monitor the situation.
If you have Mark on your mailing list (magazines, organisations etc.) please change his details to those below. Unfortunately any mail sent to Whitemoor Prison after his release is likely to have been binned by the screws.
If you’d like to contact Mark, you can now write to him at :
Mark Barnsley - c/o JfMB, PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD1 3XX, England.
We will forward any mail addressed to him.
You can also phone Mark on : 07944 522001
Or e-mail him at : email@example.com
Whilst we know that Mark is always glad to hear from supporters, please bear in mind that he still has a backlog of mail he received in prison to answer so there is likely to be a delay in him being able to reply.
A FEW WORDS FROM MARK BARNSLEY.
I think it’s going to take a while before I start pushing the tops of taps instead of turning them, before I always remember to lock doors behind me, or remember to seal envelopes before posting them. Yet despite the continued efforts of the State to make life as difficult as possible for me, it’s good to be able to walk around, and see my kids, and do those ‘ordinary’ things I’ve dreamed of doing for so long - It still feels a bit strange, but when I’m not feeling scared, or anxious, or lonely, it feels good, and nowhere near as strange as I thought it would. It’s been quite literally like waking from a nightmare, even if in some ways the nightmare continues.
In the weeks prior to my release a couple of particularly pathetic senior screws at Whitemoor tried to get my sentence extended by nicking me for refusing to work, but in the end they just wound up looking even more stupid than usual. More serious were attempts by a particularly vicious probation officer to intimidate my supporters, and set me up for an early return to prison by imposing ‘license conditions’ which I would have rejected absolutely on principle. Not content with making an unannounced visit on the home of the friend with whom I had been intending to stay, this former Royal Marine instigated a follow-up visit (also unannounced) by a police intelligence officer - It was quite clear from these visits, as it has been since my release, that perhaps predictably The Enemy are far more concerned with my perceived politics rather than anything directly to do with the Pomona Incident. When the lies and intimidation of this pair failed, RUC Special Branch came to their aid (Yes, in South Yorkshire !) in the form of a retired Branch man who is now a ‘security officer’ - He objected to my living at the address which I had given, again because of my perceived politics, and so I was made homeless. It was only when another couple of friends kindly offered to put me up at very short notice that this was not used as an excuse to keep me behind bars.
Having won a recent judicial review undertaken by my former solicitor, Vicky King, I should actually have been released on the 21st of June, but consistent to the end the Prison Service chose to dig me out, keeping me in for one last weekend, and releasing me on June 24th. No matter. After more than 8 years of incarceration in the country’s worst prisons, what difference was a few more days going to make ?
As you’d expect I got no help from the State whatsoever, not even the offer of a shaving kit, clothing, or benefits advice. After 8 years I left a maximum security prison with £46 and a plastic bag containing some of my legal paperwork (with the bag clearly marked ‘H.M. Prison Service’.)
As the gate rolled back shortly before 10.00am, it was fantastic to see about 30 friendly faces, and the NUM national banner flying proudly. I couldn’t believe I was finally ‘out’, and I’m sure my friends and comrades must have felt the same. I didn’t bother to ask the waiting cops what they thought.
After breakfast in the nearby town of March, it was back to South Yorkshire, where I saw my children for the first time in eight years outside a prison visiting room. Emma is approaching 18 now, a lovely intelligent young woman. Ellie is 12, and nearly as tall as her older sister. Even my little Daisy, the baby who was with me when I was attacked, is eight now. I couldn’t love them more.
Since my release I’ve been taking things one day at a time, but have been busy just trying to sort out the basics. It took several days to find a doctor, even longer to get my National Insurance number as I didn’t have any identification, and longer still to get a housing appointment. I still haven’t been given any form of grant to help me pay for basics like clothes and toiletries, and the £46 I was given on my release had to last me 3 weeks. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of friends and supporters I don’t know what I would have done.
I have refused to sign the ‘license’ imposed upon me after the completion of the vicious sentence handed out after my travesty of a trial, and my solicitor is challenging the ridiculous ‘conditions’, such as an exclusion zone around The Star newspaper in Sheffield - something which is entirely without basis, and a clear sign of a guilty editorial conscience. There are also attempts to restrict my movements even within the UK, an extension even of the onerous license conditions, and clearly part of an agenda of political control aimed at stopping me campaigning against my wrongful conviction. These too are being actively challenged, but my solicitor is having to waste time fighting these impositions, which both of us would rather he employed dealing with my application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
So, even while my chains have been extended I am not ‘free’, the harassment continues, and I still carry the burden of judicial injustice. For this reason it is more important than ever that the campaign is maintained, and I hope all of you will continue to support me as solidly as you have done in the past.
I am very much looking forward to meeting you all, and while it is not quite yet the time for celebration, I hope that as many people as possible will make an effort to attend the forthcoming national JfMB meeting and social (see below for details), and that we can make a start for the day justice is finally achieved.
With love and respect to you all
Always in struggle
JUSTICE FOR MARK BARNSLEY - NATIONAL MEETING AND SOCIAL
SATURDAY - 3rd of AUGUST. 2002.
At : The 1in12 Club, 21-23 Albion Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1.
Meeting Starts at : 1.30pm
Evening Social Starts at : 7.00pm
The Meeting : With Mark Barnsley’s recent release from prison we are getting supporters together from across the country to discuss where the campaign for justice goes from here. We welcome all supporters of Mark’s campaign and encourage you to come and take part in this important meeting. Food and refreshments will be available from 12.30pm.
The Social : Early in the evening we will be meeting (again at the 1in12 Club) for an informal get-together. Please try to arrive on time though as we may move on to another venue. Further details will be decided on the day. We look forward to meeting you all. Let’s make it a day to remember !
The 1in12 Club is a 10 minute walk from Bradford Interchange (Bus and train Station) in Bradford City Centre.
To view a map of the club’s location please go to :
MORE CAMPAIGN NEWS...
8 Years of Injustice ! : To highlight Mark’s ceaseless struggle for justice over the past 8 years, we declared the 8th of June this year as a ‘Day of Autonomous Action in solidarity with Mark Barnsley’. As in previous years on the anniversary of The Pomona Incident, solidarity events and actions took place around the country. Supporters kicked off early at Bradford’s 1in12 club with a special meal followed by a talk on Mark’s case and a whip-round for the campaign. Down the road in Huddersfield, local supporters had an information stall on the town’s Piazza, handing out hundreds of leaflets on Mark’s case to passers-by. Solidarity announcements were made at gigs in the evening in other West Yorkshire towns. Further South, in towns such as Brighton, Stroud and Worthing, supporters showed solidarity by holding stalls, putting up info boards at Railway Stations, handing out leaflets in town centres and gigs and hanging banners from road bridges declaring ‘Justice for Mark Barnsley’. Thanks to everyone who took part.
Mark Barnsley Release Fund : As announced in our last bulletin, a few months back supporters of Mark’s campaign in Nottingham set up the Mark Barnsley
Release Fund to give some financial assistance to Mark when he was finally released from prison. All the more important considering that Mark was released after 8 years with his conviction still intact, homeless and unemployed. We are glad to announce that as we go to press the fund has so far raised just over £700, with donations coming in from as far away as Australia.
Thanks : To everyone who has offered help and support to the campaign recently or made a donation to either the campaign or Mark’s release fund. It’s been a busy time for us with Mark’s recent release and your support has been invaluable. Thanks also goes to the group of people who worked as volunteers for the Workers Beer Company at this years Glastonbury Festival, helping to raise funds for the campaign. Providing it goes ahead, we will hopefully have volunteers at this years Leeds Festival as well.
YOU CAN CONTACT THE CAMPAIGN AT THE FOLLOWING :
Write to : Justice for Mark Barnsley - PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD1 3XX, England.
J.f.M.B. (South Yorkshire) c/o above or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
J.f.M.B. (Ireland) - PO Box 1981, Derry, Ireland.
E-mail : email@example.com Web : http://www.freemarkbarnsley.com
You can write to Mark at :
Mark Barnsley c/o JfMB, PO Box 381, Huddersfield, HD1 3XX, England.
You can also phone Mark on : 07944 522001
Or e-mail him at : firstname.lastname@example.org