In memory of Lorraine Constantinou

I am sorry to hear the sad news of the passing of my good friend and former Islington Councillor Lorraine Constantinou. 

Lorraine Constantinou

It was a pleasure to stand for election to Islington Council with Lorraine Constantinou in 2010, and a privilege to serve with her in elected office for the next four years, representing the people of Hillrise ward.

Although I was standing for re-election and Lorraine was a “new” candidate, it was no surprise to me that she secured more votes- an astonishing  2073 votes!

Lorraine was already a popular and respected figure in Hillrise, where she worked for a Tenants Management Organisation (TMO) on the Elthorne estate where she lived and raised her family for 40 years- from it’s inception in fact. 

Born in Dublin, a proud Irish-woman married to her beloved husband from Cyprus , and already a grandmother by the time of her election, it was no surprise that Lorraine was a no-nonsense figure, a community champion who was not afraid to speak her mind, and who got things done. 

PUTTING ON THE HEAT

I first met Lorraine in 2009 when she fought for residents who had been left without heating on the estate. 

She organised a petition, and joined me in taking the fight directly to the contractors (EPS Energy) who felt the full heat from Lorraine that their incompetence was denying residents.

Needless to say the matter was quickly resolved. 

BOXING

Lorraine stepped up to fight for Islington Boxing club, securing funding to help them install showers and changing rooms for females- the launch-pad for what grew into the impressive and successful facilities for women and girls at the club. http://www.thecnj.com/camden_review/news/2010/feb/red-corner-–-women-step-ring-islington-boxing-club

IBC Club CEO Lennie Hagland said “the club send our condolences to Lorraine’s family. As local councillor, she helped support this club when we were on the ropes financially. Everyone knew Lorraine as a fighter, but always punching up, and never below the belt. May she rest in peace

INDEPENDENT MINDED

Lorraine always spoke her mind, and as Peter Gruner (Islington Tribune) reported after he interviewed Lorraine after her election, she was willing to publicly criticise her “own side” (Liberal democrats) as well as opposing Labour.

 “She is currently battling with her own party at Coalition government level over increased tuition fees and the lack of security of tenure which new council tenants will have. But she is also fighting Labour-controlled Islington Council over the lack of improvements on the Elthorne estate, in Archway, where she lives and works” 

Full interview here: http://www.thecnj.com/camden_review/comment/reply/7704

ELTHORNE CHAMPION

Lorraine was fiercely proud of the tight-knit  community on the estate where she both lived and worked. She was outraged when the Labour Islington council dismissed the estate by running it down in 2012. Lorraine  said: “I have lived and worked on the Elthorne over 33 years and cannot believe that we have been described effectively as a ‘sink estate’. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s offensive. The council press release is misleading and unfortunate considering the already outstanding resident participation on the Elthornehttps://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/crime/21243130.tenants-archway-furious-sink-estate-slur-council/

SAVE THE SLIDE! AND OTHER CAMPAIGNS

Lorraine was a supporter of Elthorne Park, funded a project on the New Orleans Estate, and backed a campaign  to save a popular children’s slide on the Miranda estate that Islington Labour wanted to rip out. ( http://www.gregfoxsmith.co.uk/guest-blog-by-adam-foxsmith/ ) She said “It has got so much character, and it’s the thing that I see kids using and enjoying most when they come to the park. If it goes, the park will lose some of that character” https://islingtonnow.co.uk/save-the-archway-slide-campaign/ 

SUNNYSIDE GARDENS 

Lorraine was a supporter of Sunnyside Community Gardens, and assisted the trustees

Sunnyside Gardens trustees and volunteers, Lorraine centre with red scarf

 She helped secure them a grant of £1500, and after their original building was destroyed in a fire, and was supportive in fundraising for a replacement.

SAVE THE WHITTINGTON 

Lorraine passed away peacefully in the Whittington hospital, surrounded by her loving family.

That venue seems appropriate as I remember Lorraine campaigning to save the hospital back in 2013, when it was under threat of closure.

I was fortunate to be able to visit Lorraine at the hospital, where she still had a twinkle in her eye.

A fighter to the very end, Lorraine will be greatly missed. 

My condolences to her family.

Lorraine will not be forgotten.

Lorraine Constantinou, 1945-2023.

RIP

BOOK REVIEW: THE LION WHO NEVER ROARED

In 2019 when Matt Tiller and I started the Jack Leslie Campaign, neither of us realised what a journey we were embarking on, or where it would end, and neither of us thought at that point of writing the book that Matt has recently completed, and published this week (available here)

It was in 2019 that we both first heard a sketchy outline of Jack’s story- a Plymouth Argyle legend (ok that bit we did know, the stats were easy to find- 137 goals in 400 games) but who also had been the first black footballer selected to play for England, but then denied his opportunity because he was black. 

We were outraged- both at the injustice, but also that the story had been forgotten about.

Our original aim was a simple one: to raise enough money to build a statue of Jack Leslie at Plymouth Argyle’s football stadium, Home Park.

To do that, we had to start telling Jack’s story, to generate interest and support.

We started with a website https://jackleslie.co.uk, and some social media

We wrote about Jack, and we talked about him a lot, including in schools where we realised that we could use jack’s story in a positive way, to challenge discrimination and prejudice. 

Eventually telling Jack’s story became as important a goal as the statue.

After we launched the Crowdfunder publicly in 2020, we soon learned to tell the story to media outlets -newspapers, radio interviews, TV. 

In each case, in order to tell Jack’s story effectively, we had to be confident in it’s accuracy. We had to research it, learn it, challenge it. But information was scant, and fragmented. A bit on PASOTI here, a hint on Wikipedia there.

Emy Onuora’s otherwise excellent book on black footballers (“Pitch Black, 2015) had no mention of Jack. 

2020’s publication of the excellent  “football’s black pioneers” by David Gleave and Bill Hern, had a chapter on the first black footballer to play at each league club, so Jack (Argyle 1921-1934) featured in the “Plymouth chapter”. 

But researching chapter AND verse on the detail of Jack’s story wasn’t easy- it wasn’t as if there was a book.

if only there was a definitive biography, setting out his incredible story with supporting evidence, verifiable quotes, a clear narrative and a comprehensive index.

There is now!

Matt and I worked hand-in-hand on the Campaign. Together we raised the money, together (with the help of an amazing campaign team) we commissioned a statue, together we persuaded the FA to award Jack’s family an honorary, posthumous England cap.

Neither of us could have done any of that alone. Matt is kind enough to acknowledge the same in his introduction and credits.

But I can take no credit for the creation of the beautifully written Masterpiece that is ‘THE LION WHO NEVER ROARED-JACK LESLIE, THE STAR ROBBED OF ENGLAND GLORY” for that labour of love is entirely the result of Matt’s industry. 

Matt’s degree was in history, he works in journalism and creative arts, he writes and performs with consummate ease, but whilst those talents may make the writing of a book easier for him than for us lesser mortals, those skills alone would not suffice. What was needed -and what Matt undertook as I witnessed from a comfortably safe distance – was graft-the hard slog of research.

Days spent in the British library, poring over microfiche, perusing newspaper archives, tracking down and interviewing people, examining the family photographs and memorabilia, and then writing, re-writing, editing and perfecting. 

The result is a masterpiece.

It may be thought that as his friend and campaign co-founder, I am biased in Matt’s favour to write a positive review. In truth, I was as likely to be his harshest critic, knowing the story so well, wanting it to be given justice. I cannot find fault with this book, I read the first draft in a single sitting, and have re-read the final version with equal admiration and enjoyment. 

Matt has delivered the facts, but more importantly he has written it as a page-turner. This is a living, breathing biography, brilliantly told so that the reader can follow the narrative, understand the issues, the contemporary context, identify with Jack, and I believe inevitably come to like him.

Football biographies are often dull, but not this one, and importantly there is no need to be a football fan or have any interest or knowledge in soccer to find this a cracking read.

Born in 1901 in Canning Town, East London, of mixed race and with the shadow and trauma  of WW1 over-shadowing his teenage years, Jack excelled at all sports.

Playing football for non-league Barking Town, Jack played in Paris before moving  to Plymouth where he lived for 14 years carving out a professional career.

Whilst at Argyle he played against (and beat) Argentina and Uruguay during a historic tour of South America.

He was selected to play for England on merit despite playing for a team in the third division, and  then denied his England cap.

Years later he ended up in the West Ham boot room with England World Cup winners.

This book answers all those stories and many more in a way that is moving (some readers have been moved to tears), but also thanks to the light-touch prose style and humour that is Matt’s trademark, it has just as many laugh-out-loud moments.

It is a serious book, but without ever taking itself too seriously. 

Like Jack’s football, the book zips along, is forceful, effective and ultimately delivers firmly into the back of the net. 

I don’t know what the literary equivalent of a footballer’s cap is, but whatever that may be, Matt deserves one. The Jack Leslie story was a life well-lived, it deserved to be well told. Now, thanks to Matt, it finally has been.

23/10/2024

Dear England -theatre review

DEAR ENGLAND- a review (guest blog by Adam Smith)

Gareth Southgate’s turbulent timeline as England manager is dramatically chronicled in ‘Dear England’, the new play which premiered in the National Theatre this summer, and shortly to transfer to the West End. Reaching a semi-final and final in his first two competitive tournaments as manager, Southgate’s England team give the country something it had seemingly lost when it came to international football- belief. His journey through football is recounted beginning with the agony of his playing days, to England manager, to a respected and revered waistcoat-wearing role model. Still suffering from the heartbreak of Euro 96’ where he played and lost against West Germany, Gareth Southgate is determined to galvanise a despondent England side and transform them in every sense of the word, both on and off the pitch. While the old guard amongst the England camp squabble over tactics and personnel, the play covers Southgate’s forward thinking initiatives which focus on the mental side of the game, notably addressing England’s dire penalty shootout record. This represented a challenge not just for England but a personal issue for Southgate, who openly admits that he had never forgiven himself for missing his fateful spot kick almost 30 years ago. 

There is a distinct emphasis on the significance of mental health in the men’s game, which is related to the audience through common experiences and feelings, including fear of failure, self-acceptance and mental resilience. The sports psychologist featured in the play offers ideas on how to combat these issues, an approach which was entirely new to the players although largely de-stigmatised in conversations taking place today; the England team had clearly lacked this type of support prior to Southgate’s arrival. 

The mental struggles of the players are depicted as heightened by the rise of social media, despite Southgate’s best efforts to shield them from criticism and instead promote ideas of togetherness. Again, this is linked to the personal scars he bears from his penalty miss where he suffered from feelings of extreme loneliness and isolation. The play shows the brutal side of the game, the ruthless agenda-setting role of tabloid media, and the taboo nature of many big issues in football, which persist in the modern day yet are still not talked about often enough. These ongoing struggles make for some very sorrowful moments in a play which is also punctuated with light humour to keep audience members from bursting into tears or perhaps losing interest. Ironically, humour is likely one of the few coping mechanisms which some footballers are armed with to deal with the more mentally taxing parts of the professional game, and the adversity and pressure which comes with it.

The play paralleled with the most prominent political stories which have taken place thus far during Southgate’s tenure as manager, in particular the Black Lives Matter movement was a focus. Given the inextricable link between England’s battle against racism and the fallout following England’s Euro 2021 heartache, it was fitting that the play give insight into how Southgate and the squad attempted to deal with online hate, abuse with little support from the establishment. Southgate in the real world is an outspoken individual with a strong moral compass, which the actor and script captured well in ‘Dear England’. 

Overall, I was impressed with the accuracy of the performance. The play is advertised as having included a great deal of data and research, and I am inclined to agree. The core message of the performance is simple but irrefutable- to be kinder, and beyond that the story is still well layered with underlying themes of what it means to compete, what it means to win, and most importantly of all, what it means to be English.

Adam Smith, July 2023

The innovative set design, captured just prior to commencement of play

Fulham U21 extend Arsenal U21 misery with 2-1 victory at Motspur Park

Guest blog by Adam Smith


The Fulham U21s are back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over London rivals Arsenal, showing a confident performance rounded off by goals from Oliver Sanderson and Luke Harris. 

Arsenal are now winless in 9 in PL2 Division One following defeat at Motspur Park on April 7th, where yet again they struggled in front of goal- aided only by an equalising strike  Amario Cozier-Duberry early in the second half shortly after his introduction following the break. Fulham regained the lead minutes later, and were by far the better side overall, recording more shots, shots on target, corners and slightly edging ahead in possession. 

Fulham quickly set about causing problems for Arsenal’s defence and continued to test goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk in the first half, until one of his parried shots fell to the feet of Sanderson who found the back of the net with a simple finish. Fulham striker Terry Ablade was also a consistent threat to the Arsenal goal,  stinging the palms of Graczyk multiple times, but will be disappointed with some of his wayward finishes.

If Arsenal U21 manager Mehmet Ali would like to take consolation from any individual performances, he should look to his midfield and give praise to team captain Matt Smith, who seems to always be at the heart of their build up play and leads by example with his performances every week, or perhaps Mauro Bandeira who showed flashes of his quality over the course of the game, notably the big chance he created for winger Sagoe Jr early on in the first half. Manager Mehmet Ali has come under fire from some fans who are unhappy with his team’s continued poor run of form. They were outperformed in most departments by a seemingly more united Fulham team, and nothing should take away from the Cottager’s collective performance. It was Fulham’s team cohesion that made them the better side, although midfielder Oliver Sanderson was perhaps the standout performer. Aside from opening the scoring with his close range finish, Sanderson was an orchestrator in the middle of the park and played with a composed temperament; always the sign of a player with with maturity beyond his years.

Arsenal would have overtaken Fulham with a win, but instead now sit in 7th place, behind Brighton on goal difference, who they will play at home in their next outing. Meanwhile, Fulham will be delighted with the 3 points, now 5 ahead of Arsenal and only 2 points behind Liverpool in 4th spot. Similarly to Fulham’s senior team, their U21 players are showing that they can challenge and compete with with some of the biggest clubs in England, as both squads look to continue their impressive league campaigns this season.

Football Legends support Jack Leslie’s England cap (guest blog by student journalist Adam Smith)

The Football Association has awarded Jack Leslie a posthumous honorary England cap in recognition of the call up he received in 1925, only for his name to be removed from the team sheet due to the colour of his skin shortly after. The FA offered no explanation at the time for why the trailblazing forward was taken out of the team, instead Jack was wrongly deprived of the opportunity to play for his country at the highest level.

The awarding of the cap (by current FA chair Debbie Hewitt) was overdue but nonetheless very welcome, and was applauded by a sold out Wembley stadium (prior to the European qualifying game against Ukraine on 26th March)

Many important football figures were present to show their support, and I set out to ask them what was the significance of this symbolic gesture by the FA.

The family display the England cap with Carlton Cole, Ronnie Mauge, and Sir Trevor Brooking

Viv Anderson, accompanied by members of Jack’s family, was on the pitch prior to England’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine. Having learned of Jack’s story, Viv Anderson MBE described himself as ‘honoured and privileged’ to present the cap to Jack’s granddaughters Lyn and Gill. ‘I didn’t know about Jack Leslie prior to lockdown, and it’s important that people know about the history of Jack Leslie and others, like Arthur Wharton’. As a footballing pioneer himself, Viv appreciated the significance of Jack’s story, emphasising the importance of ‘making his history known’. Viv represented England himself, making his debut in 1978- he was the first black footballer to win a full England cap.

Interviewing Viv Anderson

Former West Ham and Chelsea striker, and supporter of the campaign, Carlton Cole was also in attendance. As a former England international, he touched on what it felt like to put on the shirt, stating ‘When you get called up for your country it’s an overwhelming feeling, an unbelievable feeling of completion to have made it to the top. And when you see someone like Jack Leslie told that he can’t reach that top tier, it makes you wonder what you’re in football for’. The ’unbelievable feeling of completion’ that Cole mentioned was an achievement most players dreamt of, yet Jack’s ceiling of career success was limited by discriminatory forces beyond his control.

Carlton Cole

Paul Elliott, former chair of the F.A inclusion advisory board (IAB) was also present and spoke before the game, stating ‘In the modern game, diversity, equality and inclusion must be the golden thread that connects people, and not just in football but wider society as well’. ‘In the case of Jack it’s also about long overdue recognition’ he added, and went on to say ‘as much as we must focus on the present and future, today is about celebrating the past’.

Interviewing Paul Elliott

Jack Leslie’s compelling story was forgotten, and only now is he receiving the ‘long overdue recognition’ that Paul Elliott described, thanks to the work of the Jack Leslie Campaign and Jack’s family, who will continue with legacy work following the unveiling of Jack’s statue outside Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park. The battle for equality of opportunity is still ongoing, which is why it is crucial that these stories are brought to attention and that these pieces of history are celebrated.

Adam Smith 29/03/2023

Jack Leslie Campaign- an update

Three years ago Matt Tiller and I set up the Jack Leslie Campaign, and I posted my first blog about in May 2020 (see here)

A lot has happened since then!

1 We unveiled a statue! https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/the-unveiling/

2 We have told Jack’s story in schools, to companies and at football clubs https://jackleslie.co.uk/news/jack-leslie-campaign-reaches-out-to-other-efl-league-one-clubs/

3 Jack Leslie has been inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame at a presentation at West Ham’s stadium

4 Jack Leslie has been posthumously awarded an honorary England cap (presented to his granddaughters at a full England International at Wembley) 

Future plans?

We will continue our outreach work, using Jack’s story to combat racism, challenge discrimination and fight prejudice. Find out more from the campaign website (and hit ”subscribe” for updates) or follow on social media (eg twitter @jacklesliecamp)

Arsenal Women 1-0 Man City Women 08/02/23 Match Report by Adam Smith

Arsenal Women have booked their ticket to the Conti Cup final courtesy of a strike from late substitute Stina Blackstenius, sealing victory for the gunners in the semi-final and sinking holders Manchester City who battled valiantly for 120 minutes as the game was forced to extra time. The goal and the win will be seen as well earned by Arsenal who had a larger share of the big chances but failed to make them count after 90 minutes, whilst City were frustrated in the attack and only managed to take control of the game after conceding.


The tie was fiercely fought, with nothing to separate the two teams after a first half of high intensity but precious few chances- star striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw failed to spring into action and on numerous occasions Arsenal looked as if they sorely missed the threat of attacking talents Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema (both currently injured).
The second half saw Arsenal begin to gain momentum, receiving constant encouragement from the buoyant North Bank at Boreham Wood. The tide of the game certainly felt as if it was turning in Arsenal’s favour, though statistically there was little to separate the elite WSL sides who shared possession equally and both registered 7 shots on target. Manchester City increasingly relied on counter attacks in their search for a goal, and at the other end Arsenal were left wondering how they had failed to break the deadlock as attacking substitutes squandered chances, in particular a header from Lina Hurtig glanced narrowly wide.
Player of the Match Katie McCabe looked like Arsenal’s best hope of finding the back of the net in normal time, creating chances with dangerous crosses from the left flank and keeping City forward Chloe Kelly quiet all night. McCabe catalysed the crowd whenever enthusiasm dwindled, encapsulating all of the determination and desire required in a cup tie of such high stakes.

McCabe in action

The deciding goal finally arrived in the 93rd minute following a ruthless Arsenal press which won them the ball high up the pitch and kick-started a sweeping move, culminating in a low cross from Hurtig and the decisive strike by Blackstenius. The finish took an obvious deflection on the way in but made no difference to the roaring home fans now certain of victory. The goal finally forced City’s hand, they chased the game for the remainder of extra-time after a fairly conservative period of play perhaps with thoughts of a penalty shootout already playing on minds.
Arsenal Captain Kim Litthe will be very happy with the result having hinted at City’s quality pre-match. She had also touched upon regrets from their most recent WSL fixture away to West Ham, a goalless draw which she felt merited more points after a dominant performance, but went on to add ‘ultimately we didn’t score, that’s what football is’. Today’s game represented a more difficult contest which arguably presented similar problems for the Gunners, except on this occasion they found an eventual solution. Arsenal will search for similar solutions on Saturday morning when the two teams face off again in the WSL, whilst hosts City no doubt have ideas of their own- both teams have ground to make on current leaders Chelsea, who are also likely to face Arsenal in the Conti Cup final assuming they can overpower underdogs West Ham in the remaining semi-final.


Match Report by Adam Smith, trainee journalist and sports writer @adamsmith29uk

Photos by @groundhopperGr1

London Lions 0-2 Watford U21s 11/01/2022 Match Report by Adam Smith

The London Lions returned to action on Wednesday night following a 7 week break, and will be disappointed to see their Hertfordshire Senior Challenge Cup run brought to an end by a talented Watford U21 side, who struck once in each half with goals from Batzelis and Balogun to secure their place in the semi-final of the competition. Lions fans will of course be unhappy with the result but more positive about the performance, which included clear cut chances, committed challenges, and encouraging spells of possession against a technically sound opposition. 
Bleak conditions and a tough physical test awaited Watford when they arrived at Rowley Lane, while the Lions hoped to make the most of an Alan Mattey stand packed with fans ready to roar on the home team.

The first 45 minutes were closely matched, and certainly a case of ‘defences on top’ as neither side seemed able to break the deadlock. This all changed on the brink of half time when Christos Batzelis broke the deadlock with a close-range effort fired low into to the bottom right corner, a massive boost for Watford morale whilst equally a heavy blow dealt to the hopes of the Lions. 


The second half saw a drop-off in energy levels from both teams, notably the Lions who were potentially suffering from a lack of match fitness. The tempo of the game began to slow down, a shift which suited the Watford U21s as they continued their composed performance. In particular the last 30 minutes saw the young Hornets demonstrate a level of maturity and game-management beyond their years as they coasted into a 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute courtesy of promising right back Hazmat Balogun.
The clear gap in quality between the two teams was the proof in the pudding for this tie- the London Lions were unable to capitalise on their advantages in height and experience, though it should be noted that they were dubiously denied a penalty late on, a decisive refereeing decision which could have shifted the balance of the tie.

This is not to undermine Watford’s tidy football which prevailed by the time the final had blown. Overall a broadly competitive battle which saw the better team progress. 

Match Report by Adam Smith, uploaded as guest blog

Photos by Groundhopper Greg (@groundhopperGr1)

BOOK REVIEW: Charged -how the police try to suppress protest (Foot/Livingstone)

Title: CHARGED – how the police try to suppress protest

Authors:  Matt foot and Morag Livingstone

Publisher: Verso 

Oppressive States, whether totalitarian or democratic, often resort to oppressive means and draconian laws to stifle dissent and outlaw protest. Draconian laws need police to enforce them, and to suppress those engaged even in peaceful protest.

Historically it is not difficult to find examples of regimes cracking down on protest by deploying police, militia or even the army to arrest, charge and imprison, and we can also see contemporary examples today in Hong Kong, China, or Putin’s Russia. 

All of these recent examples have been criticised (and rightly so) by the U.K. government.

And yet at the same time, this Government has been enacting it’s own latest set of illiberal measures to deter protest by criminalising those that participate via The Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021.

This Act contains a number of core proposals that “pose a significant threat to the UK’s adherence to its domestic and international human rights obligations, while also lacking an evidential basis to justify their introduction” (Justice, https://justice.org.uk/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill/ ) and has attracted serious criticism from Liberty and Amnesty amongst others.

The Bill is only the latest in a perpetual and evolving battle between Government authority, and those who wish to exercise what even this Government purports to recognise as the “democratic right to protest”. 

The Government makes laws- those are political decisions.

The Courts interpret the laws- those are judicial decisions.

And the police enforce the law. But is the policing of protest an operational or policing decision, or itself political? 

Superficially it seems that sometimes the police can’t win-at least so far as the tabloid media and some MPs are concerned.Within a short space of time the Met police were being criticised for being too  “hands-off” in policing XR or Black Lives Matter protests, and then too “heavy-handed” at the Sarah Everard protest.

But anyone who has been fooled into thinking that the Police are just helpless pawns doing their best in impossible circumstances, needs to take a read of ”Charged” by Foot/Livingstone, a well researched, impressive and above all readable account of the relationship between the police and those that they police. 

As the full title suggests , this book does not hold it’s punches in setting out and taking to task the role that the police have carved for themselves in actively suppressing protest. Much of this has been done in secret, and therefore without political accountability as the book’s introduction makes clear, highlighting the secret deals conducted by the Home Office and ACPO. The authors have examined recently de-classified documents that catalogue the deliberate, planned but secret shift in policing tactics in the early 80s, and in stark hypocritical contrast to the recommendations of Lord Scarman’s report for better Community policing. It was also an extension of the secretive and equally unaccountable surveillance techniques, some of the implications of which are only now coming to light in the Undercover Policing Inquiry (aka the  “spy cops scandal”)

The book is divided into 4 parts, dealing sequentially with the Thatcher era (industrial unrest and the “poll-tax riot”) , the 1990s, the “New Labour (tough on crime!)” years and a shorter final section (“Austerity Justice”)

These are book-ended by a foreword by Michael Mansfield QC (“the real agenda….is to ensure that any effective public expression is circumscribed…” and the concluding chapter (‘State of Play”)

I have attended protests as a legal observer, as well as acting for those who have been accused of offences arising from participation in public protest, and I know this book will appeal to those with similar experiences because this book shows there is much to learn even for seasoned protest veterans. 

Equally, I recognise that there are those who have never been on a “demo”, and whose views may be formed either from having experienced some inconvenience from a protest, or what they have read or seen on media reports. Such media coverage is heavily influenced by police accounts, and often wholly inaccurately (many examples of which are cited here, particularly e.g. the misreporting of police officers assaulting striking miners at Orgreave, 1984).  This book therfore is an invaluable corrective to such misconceptions, and should appeal to social historians as much as lawyers or criminologists. 

The concluding chapter effectively summarises the last 40 years of policing protest, where we are now, and gives a nod to the future (“ the long history of protest confirms that dissent always returns despite efforts of the State to suppress it’) 

Are they right? Or will over-zealous policing make it impossible to demonstrate or protest without frisking getting ”charged“ , criminalised and sanctioned.

Let’s see what the authors have to say in the follow-up book (which I warmly anticipate) in 10 years or so. I applaud the writers for presenting a detailed account of where we are now and why in a way that makes this book a pleasure to read, and recommend it to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

LCCSA: Do-gooders united!

This is an edited version of the guest speech given by Matt Foot at the LCCSA AGM 14/11/21

Do-gooders of the world unite! Guest blog by Matt Foot

I am very honoured to be invited to speak at the annual meeting of the British Virgin Islands Lawyers. And thank you for the £700k. Oh Sorry -wrong speech!

I am sorry to raise this after you have just eaten but we need to talk about Priti Patel….

Last year she reached the nadir in front of her Party conference when she attacked the ‘do-gooder lefty lawyers’ trying to defend migrants. Patel said the legal aid ‘activist lawyers’ were ‘defending the indefensible’ (1)

So vitriolic was she that a legal aid lawyer was attacked in his office by someone whipped up by her rhetoric, for which she had no regrets and told us ‘to get back to work’. (2)

It’s difficult to work out where this vitriol comes from, how can someone so lack empathy. I think I’ve finally struck on why it is she is so bitter….

I came to this realisation when we saw her at her happiest with a massive smile wandering around a back alley donning a police jacket on a police raid – she never looked so happy. On her lapel it said “Home Secretary” but she obviously always wanted to be… a copper!

Certainly there is no stopping Patel’s adoration for the police – her police bill would only allow protests that were silent and did not “cause unease

So in love with the police is she that she introduced, as part of the Bill, the idea of a police covenant. As they ‘deserve special recognition’ because ‘they will always have the support of the nation’. Making it ‘a statutory duty to do more to support the police’. This would place a requirement on her to report annually to Parliament on progress with the covenant.

To help her out I’ve written next year’s annual report for her, in recognition of some of the achievements of the police in the last year:

Annual Report on the Police 2020-2021 (as compiled by Matt Foot)

1 Racism

On racism the police are maintaining a higher stop and search rate of black people than was the case at the time of the McPherson report, and particularly so under the covid rules.

This year a former probationary officer has been convicted of being a member of the neo-nazi organisation, National Action.

And in another first, the bodies of two murdered black sisters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry were photographed by police and passed round a WhatsApp group for their entertainment. 

2 Sexism

Infamously, serving police officer, Wayne Couzens, elevated to the diplomatic corp and assisted by deployment and misuse of Patel’s new covid powers, kidnapped Sarah Everard, and then went on to rape and murder her.

3 Policing Protest

When women came out to peacefully show their respects to Sarah Everard a number of (mainly male) officers handcuffed them and manhandled them to the ground.

4 Policing the police

The police have consistently failed women who make accusations against officers of domestic violence as evidenced by Alexandra Heal’s ground-breaking work for the Bureau for Journalism, which I am proud to say won the Paul Foot award for campaigning journalism. Heal identified 700 reports against police officers for domestic abuse and that those allegations were taken less seriously than other complaints.

5 Police Corruption

This year the Metropolitan Police have been recognised as institutionally corrupt in the Daniel Morgan Panel Report. Finally, after his brother Alastair Morgan has been campaigning for the truth for 34 years.

It’s an annual report that shows that more than ever we need to have strong legal aid lawyers to defend people from an institutionally sexist, racist and corrupt police. 

It’s clear that despite this report Patel will blindly continue to give special favour to the police and in so doing she will be ‘defending the indefensible

LCCSA -defending, Campaigning

However, we in the LCCSA have a strong history of campaigning, including a few years ago against another zealot, Mr Grayling – his affliction when Justice Secretary was asset stripping, privatising anything that he could – legal aid; probation; prisons; -anything he could he would try and sell.

We feared that an underfunded, privatised probation service would be catastrophic. The proved to be true and the probation service has recently been taken back into public hands. 

Let us not forget 8 years ago – individuals, firms and lawyers associations led by the LCCSA joined together, uniting to campaign for Justice, demonstrating outside parliament, (5) and  we successfully stopped competitive tendering, the “two tier” system, and staved off a further proposed cut.  

That was eight years go. I know looking round we are getting older and more grey haired and I was thinking “where can we draw inspiration to defend legal aid again?” I want to look at what the do-gooder lawyers have been up to over the last year. It’s quite a contrast with the police!

I now want to read the Annual report of London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association.  I think its impressive.

Annual Report of LCCSA “do-gooders” 2021 (as compiled by Matt Foot)

I have 5 wonderful examples of ‘do-gooder’ solicitors dealing with injustices over the last year, many of which have been hanging around for years:

1 Firstly, for several years all our clients have had the ignominy of having to state their nationality, before their case even starts, as if that was somehow relevant to their reason for being in court. (3) That was until LCCSA committee member, Rhona Friedman and her new firm Commons Law – got together and planned out an evidence based challenge and got rid of this racist practice forever. (4) Thank you to her and her firm.

2 When it comes to protest for several years it’s been very difficult to protest at all without falling foul of the full force of the law on obstruction of the highway. Last year at the Supreme Court there was the case of Ziegler, taken on by Raj Chada and presented by Henry Blaxland, which confirmed important protest rights that can help to protect the environment and to challenge the wrongs in this society. (6)

3 20 years ago sub post masters working hard in local post offices around the country were suddenly prosecuted and convicted for fraud. They weren’t guilty of fraud at all – it was all based on dodgy expert evidence, around the new accounting system called Horizon.  Last year ex-president of the LCCSA Paul Harris represented several of those who overturned their convictions in what has been called the greatest miscarriage. He rightly said ‘what had happened was evil’. 

4 Nearly 50 years ago – four black people were convicted of an attempted theft and assault at Oval tube station, and they went to prison. Last year they finally had their convictions overturned. Lord Justice Fulford made one of those classic judicial understatements : “It is highly unfortunate that it has taken nearly 50 years to rectify this injustice.

I recommend to you all on iplayer watchingBlack Power the British Story’. There you can see William Trew’s story – it is quite clear he was fitted up for his politics, and as he walks out of the Court of Appeal you can see him with his solicitor Jenny Wiltshire, former LCCSA committee member and vice-president. Steve Bird another LCCSA committee member also represented one of the Oval 4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-52022925

5 The last and oldest case of injustice I want to highlight goes back a hundred years – let me take you back to the 1920s. I am perhaps just little bit biased in thinking this is the most important. It involves a footballer who played for arguably the best team in the country and more importantly the best team in Devon.  Jack Leslie – a black footballer who played inside left for Plymouth Argyle,  was picked for England – then suddenly he was dropped because they hadn’t realised when they picked him that he was black. Former LCCSA president, Greg Foxsmith got together with his best mate Matt Tiller to set up a brilliant campaign. They raised the money for a statue at the best ground in the country, Home Park, and have gone into schools to use Jack’s story in a positive way against the indefensible racism that existed then, and in different ways today. Thank you to Greg. (7)

Going forward the biggest threat for the do gooders to continue dealing with such injustices is the chronic underfunding of the Criminal Justice System.

The hourly rates for criminal defence work have not increased since 1996. Over 25 years. 1996 was when the spice girls released their first single, and even before Jon Blacks first tweet. No other group of workers I believe have had such a cut by governments of both colour. 

We don’t know what CLAR is going to do – is it going to make good the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group report this month that we be paid in line with inflation by an independent panel. The CLAR report is imminent. If they don’t increase the rates we will have no choice but to campaign and take action alongside the bar. 

I would like to finish on a quote of the Irish socialist Jim Larkin – ‘the great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise’. 

Matt Foot 

NOTES

1 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/priti-patel-immigration-lawyers-migrants-law-society-bar-council-b832856.html

2 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8882165/Priti-Patel-shrugs-attack-lawyers-brands-reaction-criticisms-ridiculous.html

3 The “Nationality Requirement” https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/defendant-nationality-declarations-offensive/5063715.article

4 The end of the Nationality requirement- thanks to Commons https://twitter.com/commonslegal/status/1358732682209996802?s=21

5 Matt too mention to modest, but he was a key figure and final speaker at the 2014 demo

6 Here’s the case ref: Ziegler

7 (Note from Greg:Thanks to Kingsley Napley for backing me and backing the campaign ! ). It’s not too late to get on board- law firms supporting the campaign will get recognition on the statue plinth, and campaign website!

8 Matt also thanked the LCCSA committee in his speech: Firstly we need to thank all the committee for their hard work in keeping this very important association together, particularly Mark Troman and Kerry Hudson who have done so much in a really difficult year when we haven’t even been able to meet together in person. Good luck to nw President Hexham Puri and the committee for the year ahead.

9 How times change… a note on the http://LCCSA AGM dinner from 2015, from 2016, and the Summer Party of 2016

10 And finally….find out more about the LCCSA (and if eligible, how to join) here: https://www.lccsa.org.uk/about/officers/