Supporters were shocked as a magistrates' court this week found leading anti-fascist Martin Smith guilty of assaulting a police officer.
Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said after the verdict, “I’m astounded and angered. Anti-racists from Cable Street to Lewisham to our own day have faced repression from the state.
“But we must not stop fighting racism and Nazism.
“This is not the first time someone not guilty has been found guilty.”
Speaking after the sentence, Martin said, “I completely deny I assaulted anybody. This is part of a bigger struggle—to defend the right to protest and to defend anti-fascism. The state is on the attack, we have to have broad unity to stop them.”
The court sentenced Martin to a community order, of 80 hours unpaid work over a year and to pay £100 to the police officer.
Martin, who is a national officer of UAF, was arrested on the protest in October against fascist BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time.
More than 200 people crowded onto the pavement outside the court on Tuesday morning to support Martin.
Inside PC Liung told the court that Martin Smith kicked him in the genitals at the October protest.
Liung said, “I was in fear for my safety.” He claimed he was pressed against the gates of the BBC with hundreds of people in front of him and that missiles were thrown repeatedly.
The court was shown intelligence footage of the day. In around 10 minutes of footage, no missiles are thrown.
Liung added that he bent down to try and push the crowd away with his shoulder and saw a cherry Doc Marten shoe kicking him.
He then looked up and saw a man he says was Martin Smith.
Liung told the court that he sent out a description of Martin across police radios to say he had been assaulted. But there is no record of it.
Liung was asked by Martin’s defence for the names of the officers who were with him at the gate.
Liung said he didn’t know their names. After more questioning, he did name a police officer.
Henry Blaxland, Martin’s barrister, said,”Your first reaction was to say,’I can’t remember’. It’s an obvious lie.”
Liung says he was bent over double with pain but he didn’t seek medical help.
Blaxland said, “It’s absolutely staggering that you didn’t ask anyone if they saw anything.”
Liung says he told Martin to “come here” after the alleged assault, but in the video footage Liung is shown shouting at people to “get back”.
The prosecution said Martin was whipping up the crowd. Martin told the court, “No. I was trying to explain why fascism has to be exposed.”
Martin refused to condemn the action of the people who broke into the BBC.
He also said, “I did not kick that police officer or any other police officer on that day.”