An article from Do or Die Issue 9. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 187.
Pamphlet available for £2.00 (cheques/postal orders made payable to 'Justice for Mark Barnsley') from: Plain Wordz, PO Box 381, Huddersfield HD1 3XX, UK.
Mark Barnsley is a working class anarchist from Sheffield who stumbled into a nightmare whilst out for a quiet drink with a friend and his baby daughter on June 8th 1994. After some verbal abuse, a gang of drunk students attacked him, completely unprovoked. They chased him, kicking him on the ground and causing many injuries. During the attack one of them pulled out a knife, which, fearing for his life, Mark managed to grab and hold on to. Even though he didn't brandish it, this ended up being the basis of his conviction for assault. In a trial marked by contradictions on behalf of the students (who had good lawyers), a biased judge and a hate campaign by the local newspaper The Sheffield Star against Mark, he was found guilty of Grevious Bodily Harm (GBH) and sentenced to 12 years in prison. None of the students were ever charged.
This new pamphlet presents the whole story, including quotes from the evidence, the judge's summing up and character references. It also draws attention to the murder of Eric Cobourne, an elderly ex-docker, by middle class students in 1995, who decided they "didn't like him". They killed a man, but their treatment and Mark's by the judicial system couldn't be different. The class war is dead? My arse.
Mark is starting his seventh year of imprisonment in maximum security prisons. He was recently fitted up for riot in Long Lartin prison along with other 'troublesome' prisoners, which involved being locked in a cell he was talking to some mates in, then being attacked and beaten by screws in riot gear. Charges against him were dropped lacking any evidence, but since that he's been sent to a different prison almost every month - all of them far away from his friends and family in Sheffield. He could be out by now if he gave up protesting his innocence, but he won't. As he says; "I am an innocent man and freedom is my right. I am not prepared to compromise myself by submitting to any form of conditional release. If that means spending extra years incarcerated in top security prisons, then it is a price I am prepared to pay, albeit regrettably. My life has been completely destroyed by the terrible injustice that I have suffered, all that I have left are my principles and integrity and I am not prepared to compromise them by bending my knee to the parole board."
Word is getting out about Mark's case and the campaign to free him is growing all the time. He has recently been relocated to a prison on the Isle of Wight and the campaign is encouraging people to protest about this with letters, information and solidarity actions. Everybody should read this pamphlet, get outraged at British Justice, and then find out how they can help.
For more details contact:
Justice for Mark Barnsley
PO Box 381
Huddersfield HD1 3XX
Telephone: 07944 522001
Or you can write to Mark directly at:
Mark Barnsley WA2897
Durham DH1 5YD