PRESS RELEASE (14/02/2016): This is a statement from the British Muslim Youth setting out our reasons for endorsing the ‘Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign’, which will be officially launched on the 27th of February 2016 on the national platform.
In the last few days we (British Muslim Youth) have been liaising with the Alliance of organisations which were involved in last year’s boycott of South Yorkshire Police. There is a feeling amongst some of these groups that some of the things agreed in order to end the boycott have not been delivered to the extent envisaged. This particular concern surrounds the Independent Inquiry into the policing tactics during the 5th September 2015 demonstrations.
When the proposal for the Independent Inquiry were agreed on between Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings (PCC), Muhbeen Hussain, and Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham; it was done on the understanding that it would provide an avenue towards justice for the 12 Asian men who were charged from the counter-demonstration to Britain First. We appreciate that it would be legally, ethically and morally wrong for anyone to directly intervene in the criminal justice process, in a manner that may potentially undermine or derail police investigations. Nevertheless, we hoped that the Inquiry would produce something tangible that truly reflected the things that happened on the day in question.
We now know from the PCC’s comments during the follow up hate crime summit on the 7th of February 2016 that the Inquiry is in its final stages. However, some of the people in attendance were concerned by the comments and believe that there would be very little, if anything, in the final report that would highlight the catalogue of failures that happened on the day, and help prevent future injustices.
We appreciate that the PCC stuck to his words and ordered the Inquiry. We would like to thank him for this. We also believe that the report will have many positive recommendations that will considerably improve policing at future demonstrations. If called upon, we look forward to working with the PCC in implementing these much needed changes.
Unfortunately, the report, in our view, does not go far enough in helping provide the justice that we believed it would. It is against this backdrop that British Muslim Youth fully supports and endorses the Defence Campaign that is going to be launched by the 12 men and their supporters. They feel that with the Inquiry being fruitless, they have no alternative but to take this course of action. The ‘Rotherham 12 Defence Campaign’ will be officially launched on the 27th of February 2016. The campaign is being led and co-ordinated by Suresh Grover from The Monitoring Group. Suresh has been a lifelong campaigner against injustice and racism. Most notably, Suresh has led the political campaign for Stephen Lawrence’s family.
British Muslim Youth looks forward to working with Suresh, the accused and their supporters in their campaign for justice. These men were defending their community from attacks by members of a far right group. Defending oneself from attack cannot and must not be a criminal offence. We believe this campaign is morally justified in seeking its overall objective.
We urge all those who sympathise with this cause to attend the launch* on Saturday 27th February 2016. We call upon the Crown Prosecution Service to review its decision to charge these men. To echo the motto of the Defence Campaign: Self Defence is No offence.
*The venue of the launch is the Unity Centre, St Leonard’s Road, Rotherham, S65 1PD. Some of the speakers include Imran Khan (Lawyer for Stephen Lawrence’s family), Michael Mansfield QC and our founder Muhbeen Hussain.