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Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse and Sage Willoughby – dubbed the ‘Colston 4’ – were part of a crowd of thousands taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7th June 2020 when the statue of 17th century slave trader, Edward Colston was pulled from its plinth and rolled into Bristol Harbour.
They were charged with damaging the statue and plinth “with other and others unknown without lawful excuse.” Their acquittal for criminal damage on 6th January 2022 at Bristol Crown Court sparked differing and ardent reactions from the general public, MPs and lawyers that is rarely seen.
Edward Henry KC, a criminal and regulation barrister at Mountford Chambers, wrote a piece on the verdict that was published in The Times on 7th January 2022.
“The recorder of Bristol recognised that this wasn’t an ordinary criminal damage trial. The city had been torn in pieces, and so the trial was about far more than the fate of the four defendants. The trial would assume symbolic importance – and if handled correctly, bring some catharsis.
The real heritage to be protected here is not the statue of a slaver, but the institution of the jury itself.”
As a Times subscriber, you can read it here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/think-twice-before-criticising-the-colston-verdict-ksc2q3whl
Alternatively, here is a PDF version.
Edward Henry KC appeared on GB News on Saturday 8th January to discuss the Colston verdict with Alastair Stewart, you can watch the interview in full below.
Edward Henry KC article in the Law Society Gazette can be viewed here.
Photo by Boys in Bristol Photography from Pexels
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