Socialist Worker

Charges against Barnsley Freedom Riders dropped

by Dave Gibson
Issue No. 2431

The Barnsley Two: Tony Nuttall and George Arthur

The Barnsley Two: Tony Nuttall and George Arthur


The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped all charges against freedom riders Tony Nuttall and George Arthur as “there is not enough evidence to obtain a prosecution”.

The two were arrested at a demonstration at Sheffield station in June. They are part of the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders, which has been campaigning since March, when South Yorkshire councils removed free travel from disabled and older people. Protesters would gather at train stations across the county and travelled for free in protest at the cut.

Today, Friday, a 40 strong freedom riders meeting burst into applause when the decision was announced.

The arrests occured after Transport Police had taken to physically blocking the riders in June. The dropping of charges is significant as the strategy appeared to be designed to intimidate and break the campaign.

Campaigners are clear what produced the retreat. The Unite Community union South Yorkshire co-ordinator Joe Rollin told the meeting, "It is the strength of your campaign that has forced them to back down."

Campaigner Sue Shaw added, "We're winning the war. We've won two battles now. First we got back free train travel for disabled people, now this legal climbdown. It gives me heart that we can go on and win everything back that they cut last March."

The meeting agreed to go ahead with a planned rally outside Sheffield Magistrates Court on Monday 8 December from 9am. It will now be a celebration of our legal victory followed by a demonstration. It will be a serious statement of our intention to step up the campaign.

As Tony said, “We are not going to do any freedom rides at the moment. But If the Transport Committee and the Combined Authority do not give us a commitment to reinstating free train travel by January, then we will re-start the freedom rides.”

Coaches for the rally are booked from Barnsley, Doncaster, Huddersfield and Rotherham with transport coming too from as far afield as Bristol and Durham


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.