Blog: The ostensible trial of Tara Wolf – Part 2
The Second Day: Friday 13th April 2018
For the first day see Part 1 here.
Four of the protesters were witnesses for Wolf and it was soon apparent to those of us watching that they had got together and cooked up a story, most of which was clearly contradicted by the video evidence shown in court.
The testimonies of all four witnesses – who, by the way, all used the label ‘TERF’ with impunity – were designed to bolster Wolf’s claim that he feared I would use any footage to “out” them online. The idea of being outed was obviously terrifying to this group of youngsters who’d travelled to that most public of all free-speech venues – Speakers’ Corner in the centre of London – to shout down women they disagreed with.
And, of course, as that was the only thing I knew about any of these people, it follows that it was the only thing I could possibly “out” them for – being in a gang of bullies trying to silence women. I didn’t even know their names and never would have, had they not decided to put them on public record and testify in defence of a woman-beater.
But I know them all now.
All denied seeing Wolf and his accomplices attack me and three out of the four said they saw me get his accomplice in a headlock. Counsel had no problem demonstrating that, because of where each of these witnesses could be seen standing at the time I was being assaulted, their evidence about what they had witnessed was patently false.
But what each of them also claimed – and, being a fundamentally honest and decent person with a conscience myself, this really made my jaw drop – was that prior to the incident for which Wolf was (ostensibly) standing trial, I had been going round getting in protesters’ faces filming them and verbally taunting them. They also claimed Venice Allen and Miranda Yardley were doing the same thing and that we had been asked repeatedly not to film people but that we had ignored these requests. There was no evidence whatsoever to support this testimony – none of my accusers or anyone else had got any footage of me behaving in this obnoxious manner. And the reason nobody did so is that this version of events was entirely false. It simply did not happen.
There is, however, footage of one of the defence witnesses – Devawn Wilkinson – cheerfully getting in Miranda’s face as Miranda is filming. Note, at the very start of the video, where Venice and I are positioned as this is going on. I’m chatting to new acquaintances and Venice is sitting alone. (See still right.)
Had I known that the defence was going to come up with four witnesses who would fabricate this story of what I was supposedly doing prior to the assault on me, I would have happily given the names of all my alibis. In fact, the police already had them because they’d volunteered to give statements about what they saw happen to me. But I didn’t know prior to going to court that I was to be the one on trial.
By the way, another of the defence witnesses who supposedly didn’t want to be outed, Laurel Uziell, makes no attempt to hide from Miranda while being filmed. (Notice how many of them have their phones out – funny none of them thought to capture footage of any of us behaving badly.) Moments later one of the protesters tries to snatch Miranda’s phone. I’m told it was the guy with the pony-tail, who was one of Wolf’s accomplices in the attack on me.
The first of the four to testify was Ananya Jaidev. I particularly remember her saying she objected to my filming her because she didn’t want it to be posted on line that she was “queer”. Apparently, I was supposed to know that she was queer (whatever that means these days – I’m not entirely sure) just from looking at her, though I’ve no idea what she thought gave it away because she looked pretty straight to me.
In my original blog, I posted a still of her lifted from one of the videos and I “outed” her for being a sanctimonious twit. She was one of the few who followed us to the meeting venue in Audley Square and stood outside the building screeching all evening. After the meeting, as Miranda films her and her friends, far from trying to hide from the camera, Jaidev faces it full on to object to what Miranda is saying.
I also mentioned in my original blog that, after the Speakers’ Corner incident, a story was circulated about one of the protesters being assaulted by one of us after we left the building. I knew this hadn’t happened because the woman named as the assailant had left the building accompanied by me and several others – including her mother! I now know that the source of this entirely fabricated story was Jaidev and, while testifying she told a slightly amended version of it but changed the timing and location of her allegation to Hyde Park prior to the meeting. Of course, whenever and wherever this alleged assault supposedly took place, it wasn’t caught on camera and it wasn’t reported to police. Jaidev herself, however, was reported to police when she physically attacked someone leaving a WPUK meeting in London a few months ago.
As to her evidence, she claimed not to have seen Wolf take his first run at me. Let’s have a look at the footage and remember she was under oath. (See also still, right).
She also claimed to have seen me put my other assailant in a headlock and this, again, was given the lie by counsel. This idea that I had got the guy who smashed my camera in a headlock was originally circulated by Joss Prior a day after the attack. Amusingly, he called it a “loose headlock” which, of course, is a contradiction in terms and the “loose” qualifier was quickly forgotten as the meme was spread to hundreds of thousands of people.
The video quite obviously does not show me getting him in a headlock. I had my arms round his body until I used my left hand to pull back his hood and the judge made this very clear in his summing up that this is all the video evidence shows.
The second defence witness, Laurel Ulziell, is the one getting into Julia Long’s face and goading her as she is singing into a megaphone, oblivious to what’s happening to me. So he was being truthful when he said he didn’t see Wolf’s first strike at me but not so much when he said he saw me put the other assailant in a headlock. Not at all, in fact.
By the way, here is Wilkinson back in November – several weeks after Speakers’ Corner – sitting with Wolf and someone else in an alleyway next to the Brown Bear pub on Leman Street, drinking coke like the good anarchists they are. None of them noticed us walking past one way, then back again the other, this time getting some video footage as we passed.
About an hour later, I was sitting in a police car on the other side of the road watching Wolf being arrested and gosh it felt good! (Apparently, they blamed some poor barmaid in the Brown Bear, who just happened to be a special constable and who they hilariously decided must be an “undercover cop” but it was nothing to do with her.) The policewoman who was in sitting in the car with me had to change places with a male cop who’d been going to drive Wolf to Bethnal Green police station because, for some unfathomable reason, the woman-beater felt he needed a female chaperone. Seriously.
Anyway, if I recall correctly, Wilkinson denied that she’d seen me being attacked by anyone. I do recall counsel pointing out that she was in the video watching me being attacked by Wolf’s accomplice (see still, right) and in fact had run to intervene. I think she was the only one of the four who didn’t say they’d seen me put the camera-smasher in a headlock.
Finally, there was Kathryn or Kat Higgins currently a MPhil/PhD Researcher at LSE, who gave much the same testimony as the others had done, with one remarkable exception. The other three, when asked what I’d been saying when I was allegedly filming them prior to the attack on me, all claimed that I’d said, “transwomen are men” (in their world I understand this amounts to “literal violence”).
Higgins imagination wasn’t quite as limited, however. When she was asked, she responded that I’d been saying things like, “Your dick’s hanging out.”
Even counsel looked a bit taken back at the sheer audacity of this falsehood and, to her credit, swiftly pointed out that nobody else had claimed to have heard me say anything of the kind. I’ve no doubt Higgins made that one up on the spot.
I know that one of the original charges that the police wanted to make was the theft of the memory card of my camera but they couldn’t make that one stick to Wolf when there were two other assailants and all their friends.
When my write-off of a camera was returned to me, having been removed by person unknown from where it had landed on the ground, the memory card was missing. I have no reason to doubt that it was stolen by allies of Tara Wolf. That was why his partner fought so desperately hard to wrest the camera from me in the first place – because it contained clear evidence of Wolf’s strike at me and it didn’t occur to them at the time that other people would have been filming and got incriminating footage anyway. Of course, if their story about my filming and taunting them had been true, the evidence of it would be on that memory card and produced in court as evidence of provocation. But it wasn’t – and that’s because the only footage on that memory card was the record of Wolf attacking me. Nothing else.
And yet, in spite of all four defence witnesses having been exposed in their attempts to mislead the court with regard to what they had seen and not seen, in spite of the fact that no part of my own testimony could be shown to be false because it was the whole truth, Judge Kenneth Grant chose to believe the one part of their evidence for which there was no video or any other sort of evidence and to dismiss mine. In his summing up, he said that he believed the witnesses were sincere and I had been “repeatedly asked not to film people”. This was a judge determined not to let evidence – or lack thereof – get in the way of his personal feelings and his feelings favoured the young, white, male defendant with mental health problems, not the insubordinate older woman.
He called my inability to comply with the request to pretend that my violent male assailant is a woman “bad grace”; he called the fact that, several weeks after the assault and prior to Wolf being arrested, I had tweeted an unkind joke about him, “foolish”. Apparently, I should have just put up and shut up and never mentioned him again. These, as far as I recall, were the factors he used to find me guilty of being too uppity to compensate.
Notably, defence counsel Jodie Anderson, in arguing against compensating me, mentioned “the manner in which I’d given evidence”. As the feedback from others who’d watched me giving evidence was that I’d been strong, confident and done well to keep my cool, there is a clear message here about how women victims are supposed to behave and not behave. Perhaps if I’d given my evidence from behind a screen and snivelled and stammered and been obsequious, the judge might have been more sympathetically disposed towards me. But I didn’t want to hide from my attacker in court or from any of those in the public gallery who’d come to support the woman-beater. And there was no question in my mind that I had suffered an unprovoked and undeserved attack by three nasty, violent thugs.
One of the first things I did when I entered the courtroom and took my place on the stand was to stare hard at the man sitting in the dock with all the contempt he deserved. He just looked at me blankly. The lights were (arguably) on but nobody was home.
I’m not going to say that my faith in the justice system has taken a hit as a result of this experience because, having spent many years of my working life supporting victims of crime and seeing how they are treated by that system, I didn’t have much faith in the first place. While there were some aspects of the judge’s decision that astounded me, including that he gave any credibility at all to the defence witnesses, that he entirely disregarded Wolf’s “fuck some terfs up” tweet showing pre-meditation and, above all, his crass insensitivity in expecting me to be able to pretend Wolf is a woman, I never for a moment doubted that he would find Wolf guilty because the video evidence shows quite clearly that he was. For the record, the judge concluded that “all three incidents in which there was physical contact did amount to assault… I reject the defence of the defendant that she was acting in self-defence or defence of another, or for the prevention of crime.”
Wolf’s supporters were being deliberately dishonest and scaremongering in their suggestion that, if convicted, he could get up to six months imprisonment or a £5k fine. I knew there wasn’t a cat in hell’s chance of that, even before I learned from his counsel that he was diagnosed with ODD and he’d obviously never grown out of it. He also is on the autistic spectrum.
Before I knew any of this, it was pretty obvious that he has mental health problems. I recently learned that the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas coined the term “violent innocence” for when someone denies their own internal violence by posing as a victim and projecting their aggression onto someone designated as an enemy. That would be Tara Wolf and it is unfortunate that he seems to be encouraged in this delusional state by many supporters.
Those of us closest to events all agreed that the last thing we needed was for Wolf to be turned into a martyr by an unduly harsh punishment. In the event, he was fined £150 and had to pay a further sum of £250 in court costs and £30 victim surcharge (which is used to fund victim services it doesn’t go to the victim) totalling £430. Some people think this was an unduly light sentence – including the manifestly dim convict himself who, I’m told, celebrated his sentence and now boasts of being a ‘TERF slayer’.
I don’t agree.
The reason the experience was so horrendous for me was because there were three young male assailants against just me. But the other two got away with it and all the court had to deal with was a minor assault and a first offence by someone who, regardless of his background – said to be well-to-do – doesn’t seem to have two pennies to rub together. (He was sacked from his job with a delivery company back in January. It was after he was charged with the assault on me but I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.) Prior to the trial, I said repeatedly that all I wanted was that he be convicted of assault and end up with a criminal record, which in itself could have a negative impact on his life and any career aspirations, but most importantly it should make him think twice before deciding to assault anyone else. And if he does do it again he should get a harsher sentence next time and, hopefully, the help he obviously needs. Win-win.