You will be pleased to hear Nick left court a free man (as did the others) in fact the issue of committing him to jail was never even raised.
What actually happened in Court 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand this morning is that the lady judge (hereinafter called m’lady) came in at 10:30am to find that only one of the defendants, Simon Darby, was even in court. Nick and Tanya were caught up in a one-day tube strike which half paralysed London. Even this blogger, boarding a tube train at Victoria found himself at Whitechapel before he could get off.
So m’lady “rose” (a couple of times in fact) and the court only got going properly at 11:30am by which time Nick and Tanya were in the room; Nick travelling with his usual muscular phalanx of security guards with curly wires in their ears.
Before court started the barrister for the Commission and the barrister for Simon Darby had a convivial chat injudiciously close to a certain blogger who affected nonchalance whilst straining an ear in the appropriate direction. Things may be looking up for Mr Darby, and by association one assumes Ms Lumby. Clearly the real prize here is Nick Griffin MEP, the Commission isn’t interested in the minor scalps.
There were twenty or so public at the back of the court; the unused jury box (this is a High Court, not a Crown Court remember) held a scattering of bored reporters. At the front of court was the bewigged Mr Allen, barrister for “the Commission”, with his three “pupils” in front but below him and his self-assembly bookcase beside him. (He turned up with an airline-style wheelie suitcase and built the bookcase before m’lady was in the room.) Behind Mr Allen was the only black person in the room: a lady with a slim red file marked “BNP”. Presumably she was from the Commission itself. She took no part in proceedings though; it was Mr Allen’s show.
It rapidly became clear that while Simon and Tanya had their own barristers, Nick was representing himself. Simon’s was a Rumpole figure, overweight but affable. Tanya’s barrister was a little old munchkin dwarfed by his wig and gown whose only contribution was to agree with the other barristers.
Mr Allen was clearly the dominant figure in court. Although he was exceeding deferential to m’lady it was clear she was being led by him. She asked him points of law and for help in finding her way around the law books. He was so formal and polite to absolutely everyone it must have been affectation.
Nick sat at the front and like the barristers was forever bobbing up and down talking to m’lady while Simon and Tanya were effectively spectators. Not sure why Nick has fired his legal team, but it made for a better show to hear from the man himself.
The actually legal proceedings were slightly tedious. Nick, it seems, has filed a motion to have the whole case thrown out as an abuse of process. This motion takes precedence over other business (which may be Nick’s cunning plan) and will take a couple of days to hear. Since the court had only been booked for the morning in fact the only business the court dealt with was scheduling the next hearing, which will be at the Divisional Court, in front of two judges instead of just m’lady, on the 8th and 9th of November. No-one even suggested that Nick go to jail, just come back in a couple of months. However “scheduling a new hearing” did manage to take more than an hour: affidavits by this date, skeleton argument by that date, etc. When everyone apart from the defendants are being paid by the minute there’s no cause for hurry.
The fearful issue of costs was briefly mooted in open court and it was agreed to postpone dealing with them until another time.
Meanwhile outside the Royal Courts of Justice the BNP demo was in full swing: I’d guess, 50 patriots, 5 police, 5 press photographers. There was flag and sign waving, with representation from Scotland and Wales present.(See picture above.) But inside nothing happened except that the financial squeeze on the BNP was turned another notch.