Last Friday, 22 February 2008, campaigners celebrated outside the London offices of Kalyx, the firm that runs the Harmondsworth detention centre, after four men were acquitted of charges in connection with a disturbance at the centre in November 2006.
The jury at Southwark Crown Court, after deliberating for days, found the four men not guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder. One man was found not guilty on two counts of damaging property, and another was found not guilty on one count of damaging property. No evidence of a plot or conspiracy was proved.
On the day of the disturbance, a Chief Inspector of Prisons report was published which, according to Anne Owers, was: ‘undoubtedly the poorest report we have issued on an immigration removal centre’. The disturbance seems to have been a spontaneous reaction by detainees already feeling resentment and despair at the conditions of their detention. At the end of the trial the judge commented that ‘one might feel sympathy’ for people detained in immigration detention centres.
A spokesperson for the Support the Harmondsworth 4 Campaign told IRR News: ‘It should be Kalyx and the Home Office on trial. These four men have been made scapegoats for a government intent on criminalising innocent people who have committed no crime.’
IRR News will carry a full report on the trial at a later date.