Birmingham City Council v Shakeel Afsar, Rosina Afsar, Amir Ahmed, Persons Unknown & John Allman
This post was set to be ultra-boring, but then something really unexpected happened.
I started writing this post from Court 205 at 33 Bull Street, Birmingham, on Monday. Beside me to my left sat Shakeel Afsar. In front of Shakeel was my barrister, Paul Diamond, and in front of me was another barrister from the nearby Halcyon Chambers, Tom Green, lending his services pro bono for the day. He’ll be back tomorrow and Friday too. Today, I sat on the end of the front row next to Paul, where Tom had been yesterday, at the right end of the front bench, directly behind the witness box. Directly behind me sat Shakeel Afsar, where I had sat yesterday. The trial had been going well, in my opinion.
As recorded here, I had applied in June to become a defendant who was representative of those of the general public who shared my interests in the general public’s freedom of speech on social media, including the freedom to criticise the teaching at the school and the teachers who deliver it, even at the risk of that criticism being deemed offensive or abusive, contrary to the injunction sought.
I was added as the 5th defendant on Friday 13th September, but, at the Pre-Trial Review, Mr Justice Warby refused to clarify that I was at the court as a representative of those of the general public whose interests in this matter are the same as mine. I therefore no longer understand why I’m in this case, but never mind about that.
I continued my application for a protective costs order on Monday, now represented by Paul Diamond, supported by this witness statement.
I expect to be in the witness box on Thursday, making this witness statement.
In a moment of drama today, right at the end, the final witness called by the council accused me of calling him a “fag”, in a whisper he said, as he walked past me after giving his testimony. Paul and Shakeel didn’t hear me say that. There was a microphone just in front of me. feeding into the court’s audio recording system used for obtaining transcripts and we have been invited to apply for the relevant 30 seconds or so of the recording to be played. As far as I remember, I had said something though, as the witness walked past me, which he might have misheard. I’d muttered, “Well done, mate”, as far as I remember, or (certainly) words to that effect. I’d noticed his nervousness in the witness box, had admired his courage in overcoming that and had felt compassion for him.
The only time I can remember using that F-word, “fag”, in a homophobic derogatory sense (as opposed to meaning a cigarette) was four years ago, in the following parody of mine of a Westboro Baptist Church genre of changing the lyrics of popular songs to deliver their unusual message.
I received messages of appreciation at the time for the Westboro parody from both Mrs Phelps and from an LGBT activist calling himself The Gay Ambassador.
The crazy thing is that the main evidence of the witness who created this drama was of various strangers calling him a “fag” out of the blue. He reminded me of somebody I used to love, who fancied herself to be a victim of organised (or “gang”) stalking, including (eventually) on my part, along with all the random strangers that she had imagined were intercepting her days’ routine since before she met me. That’s why I felt for him, and whispered kind words as he passed me, which he seems to have misheard, to devastating effect.
[The trial continues tomorrow]
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.