December 21, 2021
From Alternative Bristol (UK)

A strange day at Bristol Crown Court on the 6th day that the Jury have sat – read our previous daily reports here. But today they were in court for less than 30minutes!

With the 4th defendant still too sick to give their evidence, much of today involved legal discussions between prosecution, defence & judge – all of which remain covered by reporting restrictions. So in the end the Jury sat for just two short sessions. For 10minutes just after midday they heard a short but glowing character reference for Rhian Graham from an employer linked to Circomedia, which was read out to the jury by her lawyer. There was then an almost 2 hour break for the Jury.

Returning at soon after 2.15pm, they were then read the statement for the defence from Gloria Daniel. Ms Daniel is a direct descendant of a slave belonging to Thomas Daniel, a very senior & rich slave trader who was a part of Bristol’s ruling elite, and a leading member of the Society of Merchant Venturers. He held roles in the then Bristol Council from 1785 for more than 50yrs. Ms Daniel’s full statement has been published by The Bristolian – read it all here. We reprint just one small section relating to the compensation Thomas Daniel received from the British Govt after the Abolition of Slavery in 1833:

After the Act of Abolition in 1833 was passed, compensating slave owners for the loss of their ‘property’, Thomas Daniel and his brother made over 52 claims for 6,900 enslaved people and 27 of these claims were successful.
Thomas Daniel and his brother John received over £130,000 in compensation which was divided between them, with Thomas Daniel receiving compensation for a further 200 enslaved people that were personally ascribed to him. This made him one of the largest claimants of compensation money given to British slave owners, the third largest in the country [AltBristol note: the British Govt borrowed £20million to pay compensation to slave owners, that debt wasn’t paid off until 2015].
There are several ways of working out inflation rates to compare what the figure equates to today – in terms of purchasing power the figure allotted to Thomas would amount to over £7 million today…
British tax-payers including the British African/Caribbean diaspora who were invited to work in post war Britain, also contributed to repaying the interest on the government loan (raised by the Rothschild Syndicate) obtained to pay the compensation through their taxes until 2015, This means that my father, his brothers, his children including me, and his children’s children, including my own nephews and nieces, would have contributed towards the compensation for the ‘freedom’ of his great-grandfather, my great, great grandfather.

Our article feature image above comes from Edward Colston Research Paper #1 by BRHG. We recommend a good read of it, and then Research Paper #2.

The Jury left the court after this statement, and there then followed more legal chatter between prosecution, defence & judge. The jury is scheduled to return at 10am on Wednesday 22 December, presuming the sick defendant is well enough to give evidence. It is increasingly likely that, even if the defendant has recovered, the jury will not be able to retire, consider it’s verdict, and return to give it, before the courts close at approx 4.30pm on Thursday this week. That means a verdict wont be known until the 4th January or later.

This is not the jury’s fault of course, they have spent many hours twiddling their thumbs in their waiting room. It’s not the defendants fault either, anyone can be sick at any time, and thankfully neither they, nor members of the jury, nor the lawyers, have caught covid…yet. No, but it’s the failure & fault of our judicial system. It is 18months since the defendant’s alleged crimes were committed, yet despite clear deadlines for case management set by the judge, much time on an almost daily basis is lost to case management & legal arguments. More time is lost daily when the judge has to sit on other cases in the same court, usually in the morning, sometimes after lunch too. Today for example the jury didn’t get into court until over 2 hours after the courts opened. Why is this?

Because the judicial system is in meltdown. Covid hasn’t helped at all, but there was already a huge cases backlog before covidthe crown court backlog stands at 60,292, according to the latest Ministry of Justice figures to the end of June 2021, compared with 41,045 in March 2020 when the pandemic began – a 48% rise (Guardian article). Also in June, the backlog of uncompleted Magistrates Court cases stood at over 360,000 (NAO report). That means many thousands of people awaiting any form of justice; thousands of victims traumatised by the wait; thousands more held on remand in prison without trial; and thousands of cases like the Colston4 case where court time is shared, juries forced to wait, and justice almost certainly not received fairly in many cases. It is an indication of the societal failure brought about by decades of neoliberal UK governments where profit comes first, and nothing else matters.

Which of course why the slave-trader Colston’s statue was left standing to look down on us for so long, as a venerated high priest of a totally immoral trade that existed purely for a tiny elite to make profit. It’s not just statues that need to be toppled!