Child grooming trial: EDL and BNP protests put case in jeopardy

Nine men were yesterday found guilty of involvement in a child sexual exploitation ring in Greater Manchester, and between them have been charged with 21 counts of sexual abuse over a two-year period. The high profile case has cost approximately £2m and the guilty verdict yesterday is the result of a lengthy investigation, but one which members of far-right groups in this country threatened by hi-jacking the case for their own political gains. The result yesterday is even more important given that following the convictions, Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service apologised after revealing that they had failed to bring the case of the first victim to trial following her cry for help in August 2008. However, it is not only the incompetency of the initial police investigation that jeopardised the result of the trial. Even before the case at Liverpool Crown Court had formally begun members of the BNP, including leader Nick Griffin, and the English Defence League derailed the smooth running of the trial by protesting outside. The angry demonstrations outside the court on February 7 led to two defence barristers pulling out after claims that they had been threatened. This resulted in a two-week delay and a second jury having to be selected and sworn in. As well as the disruption outside of the court, the Manchester Evening Standard have reported that last week members of the far-right group the North West Infidels and Nick Griffin had revealed on social networks Twitter and Facebook that seven of the defendants had already been convicted, despite the jury in the case having not yet reached a conclusion. The revelation was in fact correct, and the leak by the far-right extremists led to the immediate discharging of the jury, who maintain that the leak did not come from them. The judge in the case, Judge Clifton, has reported said that he believes there are ‘other scenarios which could have explained the tweets’. What is clear is that the far-right’s demonstrations and keen interest in the case led to serious problems which could have jeopardised the successful conclusion and the delivery of justice. [Photograph from: Hope not Hate]

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