Foreword, Evidence number 5
It is a measure of the oddity of those times that the word “activist” has become an insult. In this issue, we celebrate 50 years of “radical law” in the form of law centers. Legal centers are set up by “benefactors” and staffed with “activist lawyers” – in other words, people who advocate for a better society.
The first legal center opened in the early 1970s in West London, in the shadow of the Westway, with the mission of making “the people’s rights” accessible to tenants of slum owners like rachman and a Caribbean community regularly harassed by the local police.
North Kensington Legal Center remains at the heart of the community for which it was established five decades ago, even though it has long been deprived of its original home and forced to relocate to the Lancaster West estate. His office is now literally in the shadow of Grenfell Tower and the legal center has become the first port of call for survivors of the blaze that claimed the lives of 72 people in 2018.
As of this writing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has launched yet another attack on “left lawyers”. When the kinds of serious justice issues raised in this magazine need to be discussed, don’t expect our politicians to engage in good faith.
We report how Headquarters moved 400 asylum seekers to a dilapidated army barracks in Kent and then blamed them for the entirely predictable Covid outbreak. Photojournalist and mainstay of evidence Andy Aitchison has been arrested in front of his children on suspicion of criminal damage after photographing a protest. As we cheer for the NHS, migrant workers have become ‘the forgotten’, homeless deaths have increased despite the ‘everyone in’ policy and the justice system has failed to protect the most vulnerable from the society.
In Part Three, we present the real victims of our failing justice system: the important and disturbing account by Eric Allison and Simon Hattenstone of Eddie Gilfoyle’s epic battle to clear his name; and Fran Robertson and Melanie McFadyean on the scandalous failure of our courts to tackle the ongoing joint venture scandal. Victims of a system undermined by decades of political neglect and “shattered” by austerity.
At last year’s Conservative Party conference Home Secretary Priti Patel boasted that under Conservative leadership the UK “has provided and will always provide a sanctuary when the lights are out on people’s freedoms “. “As for those who defend the failed system – the traffickers, the benefactors, the leftist lawyers, the Labor Party – they defend the indefensible,” she said.
As long as the justice system is broken, benefactors, leftist lawyers and activists will continue to defend the indefensible.
Sue James and Jon Robins