Wednesday, 12 March 2008

‘Why I Pray for a Cornishman’

This weekend in New Mexico, US a prisoner of war art show will be featuring works by Irish prisoners held in jails in Republic of Ireland and the UK. CPW have been informed that the following ‘Why I Pray for a Cornishman’ will be handed out in the form of a leaflet to all those present on the opening day.

Although not interred in a prison Mr Leamon has been subject to a different kind of incarceration by the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, consisting of a staggering seven months bail without knowing if at the end of the period he will be charged. Charged with what, is anybody’s guess it seems. Mr Leamon is now the only person who was arrested in September 2007 who is still on bail and has many of his possessions retained by the police.

CPW wish Mr Leamon every success later this month.

Why I Pray for a Cornishman

On Wednesday 26th March, 2008, Tony Leamon, a 44 year old Cornishman from Falmouth will go to Camborne Police Station in Cornwall to answer his bail. Like so many others before him and certainly after him, he will walk through the secure doors of the Custody Centre, be searched and documented in. Thereafter, who knows ?

Nothing unusual in any of that except the fact that Tony Leamon is an innocent man.
His story goes back an agonising seven months or so to September 6th. 2007, when heavily armed police officers called at his door during the early hours of the morning. Tony was arrested on suspicion of being a Cornish 'terrorist' and his house searched and his John Angarrack and other books, computer, Cornish Language material, telephone and Saint Piran's flag seized. No firearms or explosives were found but that did not stop the police task force arresting him and taking him into custody.

Tony Leamon was and still is a Cornish cultural and political activist. He is an unwell man who battles with chronic fatigue syndrome, otherwise known as 'M.E.' and who has a form of cancer of the blood. He cares for his very elderly father, a decorated war veteran and his mother, who herself has had a double mastectomy due to cancer.

After many, many hours of pressured interrogation, Tony was released on police bail with an instruction to return to Camborne Police Station during early December. He sought the assistance of a solicitor who was appointed to help him via the legal aid system but the help he actually received was nominal and not at all defensive of his rights. This is common enough in a cash strapped legal aid system.

Tony walked from Camborne Police Station a very upset man. This Celtic, Cornish giant of a figure knew in his heart of hearts that he had done nothing wrong nor could he. He is a committed pacifist and has no previous criminal convictions. As with many others before and since, his only crime was to be Cornish.

Eventually, the news about Tony spread and messages of support started to trickle in, not only from Cornwall but from further afield, indeed from as far away as the United States and Australia. Not only from Celtic Cornish activists but from members of the gay community in Cornwall who recognised from their own experiences that the police were often politically motivated and driven to achieve results. Tony himself is straight but he saw great similarities between what he was suffering and what members of various pressure groups, individuals and organisations across Cornwall had been subjected to. One person even started their own internet site in protest at what is widely perceived as police victimisation. ( ) The police in Cornwall are controlled from Exeter, across our age old border and into England, and there is a growing rift between them and the community in our Duchy they police, so much so that they are commonly referred to now as the 'Colonial Police.'

Tony answered his bail in December and this time a small group of supporters gathered outside Camborne Police Station to offer their support. Their constant enquiries about Tony were turned away and they were photographed and car numbers noted down by the police and, one would suspect, the special branch. Again, this is common enough in modern Cornwall where many Cornish campaigners have had telephones tapped, e-mails intercepted and knocks on the doors. After ten hours of pressured interrogation, Tony was again released on bail, exhausted and drained. He was instructed to again return to Camborne Police Station on the 26th. March, 2008.

Since December, quantities of his possessions have been returned to him but not all. The pressure of this quite extraordinary period of bail has had on this man's life have been telling, to say the very least. Following an attempt to take his own life, and pressure from friends, he eventually sought out the help of his doctor and was prescribed counselling and medication. His Member of Westminster Parliament, Julia Goldsworthy, has written to the Chief Constable up in Devon asking certain questions.

Others arrested for being so-called Cornish 'terrorists' down the past few years have all been released without any charge being brought thus no Court appearance. People arrested at the same time as Tony Leamon have been discharged from their bail.

I know Tony well enough to say that this big and dignified, fun filled man has no bad bone in his body. He is guilty of nothing and I shall campaign with all my heart and soul even if he is charged and appears before a court of law. I shall campaign even if he is convicted because, as with so many others, I know that he has done nothing wrong. I have wept for this generous and kind man, and being a Christian, I have prayed for him every day.

An article which appeared in the Western Daily Press on the 28th. November, 2007 asked when will 'someone put the Cornish in their place'? Mockingly referring to the Cornish as 'pasty eaters' and insulting the unique language and culture of the Cornish people, it openly criticised those, who like Tony Leamon, stand up for what they believe in. Messages of complaint sent to the editor of this newspaper have gone unanswered to nobody's surprise. I enclose a copy of the article under and I am glad to reply to its rhetorical question by saying that, for as long as there are brave heroes like Tony Leamon, an ordinary Cornish Patriot from Falmouth, who are prepared to stand up against an overwhelming anglocentric system which condemns the Cornish people, no one will come near to 'putting us in our place'.

I invite you to pray for Tony Leamon when he attends Camborne Police Station on the 26th March, 2008 and if you do not believe in a Higher Being, to have Tony in your thoughts. I don't doubt the system will nail him to a cross in order to make an example of him for, having been part of that system myself for a good many years, I know that publically spun results in the media are often interpreted as the sign of a successful public service. I also know that people are frequently wrongfully arrested and even convicted by an increasingly authoritarian society.

I also invite you to E-mail your messages of support to Tony or to me. They count for a lot. It is my belief that the pen, and nowadays, the keyboard, are mightier than the sword so please spread what has been written by me here, written in all sincerity, to as many people as possible.

Tony Leamon would love to hear your message of support at: or if you prefer, email me at: and I should be privileged to pass your message on.

Tony Leamon can be seen in happier times in the attached picture.


Michael Chappell

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