Letter appeal on behalf of John Bowden, long-term radical social prisoner, about the criminalisation of the Anarchist Black Cross (UK)

indexvia a comrade of Anarchist Black Cross Brighton:

In 2007 my association with the Anarchist Black Cross was considered a compelling enough reason by the prison authorities to prevent my release, despite the subsequent exposure of the lies manufactured by a prison administration regarding the nature and activities of ABC.

In the summer of 2007 following my transfer to an open jail, Castle Huntley near Dundee, after almost three decades of imprisonment, a prison-hired social worker at the jail, Matthew Stillman, submitted a report to the Parole Board in which he claimed I was linked to what he described as a “terrorist group”, specifically naming ABC, and had received visits from “terrorists” also linked to ABC. As a consequence of Stillman’s allegation I was transferred back to a maximum-security prison.

Following a campaign of protests on my behalf by ABC, which included demonstrations outside the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Prison Service H.Q. In Edinburgh, and an investigation by Perth & Kinross Council into Stillman’s allegations to the Parole Board, those allegations were exposed as lies. Whilst being interviewed by a representative from Perth and Kinross Council Stillman would claim by way of a defence that he had been encouraged by senior management staff at Castle Huntly prison to use the term or description “terrorist” when describing ABC in the parole report. Stillman faced no disciplinary proceedings following the exposure of his lies and was simply moved to another social work council.

It would be several years before the prison authorities would resurrect it’s lies regarding the “terrorist” or “criminal” nature of ABC in an attempt yet again to prevent my release, and once again prison-hired “professionals”, this time psychologists, would be used to present the lies as impartial and unprejudiced fact.

On the 9th June the psychology dept at Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire carried out an assessment of my case, ostensibly to decide my “level of risk” in terms of danger to the community, and my suitability, or not, for a return to an open prison. On page 21 of their subsequent “Psychological Assessment Report” they wrote the following:

“Mr Bowden holds value in communicating his political ideals and advocating change. He has also used radical websites to identify Criminal Justice system professionals (the allusion to Stillman is obvious) that he alleges have abused their positions of authority. While he cites this to be a feature of his views on authority in general and therefore feels entitled to express his views and thoughts, this is an area that should be further monitored by the relevant authority supervising him. Mr Bowden has stated his intent to distance himself from criminal associates, yet considers the Anarchist Black Cross groups, to whom he is linked, to be non-criminal in their approach. At the time of writing, there was no information available from the police to confirm this. It should be noted however, that in 1992 he had associates that facilitated his escape to Holland. His associations should therefore be monitored in conjunction with the police. It will also be useful to liaise with the police if concerns emerged in the future about the approach of Anarchist Black Cross groups being criminal in their intent”.

Firstly, ABC members played absolutely no role or part in my escape to Holland in 1992 and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest they did, and secondly, following Stillman’s lies regarding the ABC in 2007, Perth and Kinross Council asked the police to provide an opinion of ABC and were informed it was a “radical group” with “potential public order risks” but definitely not “terrorist” in nature or unlawful in political orientation. Once again the prison authorities here in Scotland are attempting to criminalise ABC and punish prisoners linked to it.

I would ask ABC members therefore both in solidarity with me and as a protest against their criminalisation by a serial human rights abuser like the prison system, to e-mail and send letters of complaint to the following:

Jim Kerr
HMP Shotts
Cantrell Road

Scottish Prisoner Service H.Q.
Calton House
5 Redheughs Rigg
EH12 9HW

The Justice Minister
Scottish Parliament

Please send letters of support to:

John Bowden

HMP Shotts
Cantrell Road

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