Sunday, 3 February 2008


The Celtic League has written to the Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall to protest about the arrest of several members of the Kernow Branch during 2007 on suspicion of being involved with the Cornish National Liberation Army/Cornish Republican Army.

The Celtic League initially wrote a letter of complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Ian Boyne, in February 2007, following a succession of arrests of one particular member of the Branch ( Member A), who it was felt was being unfairly harassed. No charges were ever brought against Member A by the police, but throughout 2007 he informed other Branch members that he was being followed by the police and on occasion provoked for his politicalbeliefs and his Cornish ethnicity by duty officers whom he was known to, while out in public.

The League asked that the police investigate this matter under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, in order to determine if Member A was being deliberately harassed. After a request for further information by the police investigating the matter, Member A asked for the League to discontinue their enquiry due to the upset, stress and frustration that it was causing him. Member A has since left Cornwall for an extended period in an attempt to put the situation behind him.

Later on in the year however, on 6th September 2007, two other members members of the Kernow Branch were arrested ( Members B and C), taken to a police station in Cornwall and questioned about their alleged involvement with the CNLA/CRA. A number of other Cornish activists were also arrested, around the same time as Members B and C , who although were not members of the Kernow Branch, had had contact with the Branch and its members. Member C has since resigned from the Celtic League, believing that his arrest was somehow connected with his membership of the organisation.

Member B was released on the same day of his arrest to answer police bail on 16 th January 2008, over four months after his arrest. On the day of his arrest Member B had a large number of items confiscated from his home by the police, including Cornish flags, a history book and papers relating to Kernow Branch activity and he was hoping that his possessions would be returned to him on the day he answered his bail.

On the 16th January 2008 Member B was accompanied by several supporters from the Kernow Branch to Camborne police station for 11am to answer his police bail. At 430pm the last of the Branch supporters had to return home, after not being informed when or if Member B would be released. Member B was finally released at 9:00pm after ten hours of interrogation with little money or means of returning home.

Member B later informed other Branch members that the police had asked him about his possible contacts with the Free Wales Army, threatened to charge him with conspiracy and led him to believe that they would arrest further Cornish activists who, they seemed convinced, were part of a Cornish 'army'.

The Celtic League campaigns on a broad range of issues including the environment, politics, language and social justice through peaceful means - as stipulated in the Celtic League constitution - and have done so successfully for almost half a century. The arrest and apparent harassment by the police of Celtic League members has led to some members of the Kernow Branch resigning and pulling out of civil activity and support for this important area of Celtic democratic campaigning. More significantly and sadly, the recent arrests and poor treatment of our innocent members in Cornwall affirms the suggestion made by the Celtic League previously - that the Devonwall police in their determination to root out members of the CNLA/CRE are possibly causing more upset among ordinary Cornish people than the CNLA/CRE ever have!

The letter written by the General Secretary of the League to the Chief Constable of Cornwall and Devon Police and copied to several other sources is set out below (names have been emitted):

"Dear Stephen Otter

Treatment of Kernow Branch Celtic League Members

I am writing on behalf of the Celtic League to express our continuing alarm at the treatment of members of our Kernow/Cornwall Branch and one member in particular, Member B.

Throughout 2007 Kernow Branch Secretary, Mike Chappell, reported to the rest of the League that a series of arrests had been made of members of their Branch. None of those members arrested was charged, but consequently a number of Kernow Branch members have now resigned their membership of the League out of fear that their membership was somehow the cause of their arrest.

One member, Member B, was arrested on the 6th September 2007, taken to Camborne police station and interrogated for the entire day on suspicion of having links with the Cornish National Liberation Army/Cornish Republican Army (CNLA/CRA). He was also questioned about his activity within the Celtic League. The Celtic League campaigns in a variety of different ways on a broad range of issues including the environment, social justice and language/culture. We undertake our activities through peaceful and democratic means, as set out in our Constitution (see enclosed). If any of our members don't adhere to the Constitution of the League then they would be asked to leave the organisation.

At our 2007 AGM in Caerdydd/Cardiff Member B gave a detailed account to other delegates of his treatment by the police on 6 th September and the accusations that were made against him. He also informed us that a surprisingly large and arbitrary quantity of his possessions had been removed, including a history book, Cornish flags, his friend's computer and paper files. To date, Member B has not had any of his possessions returned to him and has had to give up his voluntary job,because some of the confiscated items contained irretrievable work related information.

As you may be able to imagine, Mr Chappell was beginning to doubt his leadership of the Branch and the choice of campaigns the Branch had been pursuing, because of the arrest of at least three of its members. Consequently the delegates at the AGM unanimously agreed the following statement:

The Celtic League gives the Kernow Branch its full support in its activities during the last year in pursuing the aims of the organisation through peaceful means.

On the 16th of January 2008 Member B answered his police bail at Camborne police station at 11am, a staggering four months after his original arrest. Several supporters from the Kernow Branch accompanied him to the station, but after waiting five and a half hours outside the station while Member B was being interrogated, the last of his supporters had to return home.

The Celtic League has now learnt that Member B was held at Camborne police station for ten hours while being interrogated by officers. Neither his family members nor supporters were told when or if he would be released. Member B was released from the police station at 9pm and without being a car driver, having no telephone (his phone was confiscate by the police in September) and little money to make the difficult journey to his home in Falmouth he was left stranded. Member B also has a debilitating illness and is classified as disabled. No charges have been made against Member B at the time of writing and neither have his possessions been returned.

In February last year I wrote to the Independent Police Complaints Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Police, Ian Bynoe, to complain about a succession of arrests of another of our members, Member A, which seemed to boarder on harassment. Later Member A decided not to pursue the matter further, being frustrated and upset with the whole business.

The subsequent arrests of our other members since that time seem to confirm our initial concerns that the Devon and Cornwall police are, for some reason, targeting our members in Kernow/Cornwall. I have therefore copied this letter to Ian Boyne, whom I addressed my initial letter to, Jane Lashbrook in Exeter (Freedom of Information Officer) who was also requested to follow up the matter under the Freedom of Information Act and the Professional Standards and Performance Department in Plymouth. Copies of our previous references regarding the above can be found below.

In previous communication, further information was requested of those other members of our Branch referred to in my letter that had been visited by the police and/or felt harassed. I cannot provide this information, because they still do not want to be named, for fear that there will be repercussions, but I can provide the information that can be found below.

Member A:

I believe you already have details of his arrests from our previous communications. Member A was repeatedly taken to Liskeard police station.

Member B:

Arrested 6th September 2007 after an early morning visit to his home address and taken to Camborne Police station. He was released without charge at 5pm the same day and was asked to answer bail at Camborne police station on 16 th January 2008.

Member C:

Member C was arrested on 6 th September 2007 and taken to Camborne police station. Member C later resigned his membership of the League along with several others (see above).

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
General Secretary
Celtic League

Ian Boyne , Independent Police Complaints Commissioner with responsibilityfor Devon and Cornwall
Jane Lashbrook, Freedom of Information Officer, Freedom of InformationOffice, Exeter (ref: 128/2007-1512)
JM Morgan, Caseworker, Professional Standards and Performance Department,Plymouth (ref: PSD/QU/48/07)"

(Article prepared for Celtic News by Rhisiart Tal-e-bot)

J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It worksto promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on abroad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlightshuman rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses onsocio-economic issues.

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