So, we made the front page of the newspaper. Ok, it is only the Chester Leader and Chester Chronicle but they are the main local papers. The immediate result was a visit from two local couples, John and Wendy, and Pete and Faith, who had been following the saga in previous articles and who were prompted by this one to come and see us. They were most enthusiastic in their support; John and Wendy brought some provisions and Pete and Faith brought a boot-load of lovely Ash firewood (you should have seen my delight to have some ash, the champion of all firewood, to keep the dhuni fire going).
It is incredible to see the politics and plotting that is going on behind the scenes:
That seemingly-supportive article on the front page of the Leader, for example, is actually a finely-crafted strategy intended to support the local council scheme to evict us from the site. The headline itself (oddly, not repeated in the online version) said “WE’RE GOING TO STAY FOREVER”. Why would Robert Platt, the journalist who spoke to us, print such a thing if we didn’t say it (and I can assure you we didn’t)? It seems obvious to us that this is more scheming in the hope of causing us to leave; the intention was most likely to be that such a headline would stir up bigotry, in the hope that some local thugs would take on the job of discouraging us from staying.
Further down the article Robert has also stated, “The camp has grown to about six tents in addition to the caravan.” Hmmm… proof of claim? The camp has never had six tents in addition to the caravan and currently consists of the caravan, two tents, the shelter for the dhuni fire area and a half finished shower cubicle. So why does Robert publish that there are six tents? Innocent mistake? Lazy reporting? We suspect not: We have received word that the council will try to move us this week and we expect they will try to use Section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1994, which says:
Two or more persons trespassing on land ( not including public highway land, eg verges & lay-bys) with the intention of living there may be directed to leave the land by the police if:
(a) there are 6 or more vehicles there; or
(b) if any damage has been caused to the land, eg crop damage ); or
(c) ‘threatening or abusive words or behaviour’ have been used against the occupier or their agents.
Knowing that, it seems obvious that this ‘mistake’ was no mistake at all but a coldly-calculated move to help the council and police to try to massage the facts so as to support the use of Section 61; caravan’s and tents are often ‘construed’ as vehicles when this power is relied on.
I have to say, the general standard of reporting in the Leader/Chronicle, with reference to our camp, has been lacking a great deal of diligence: Robert often misquotes us, paraphrasing our words to subtly change their meaning. I had assumed that when one quotes someone it is done verbatim. One expects words in quotation marks to be exactly what someone said rather than a reporter’s interpretation of them.
And as for the Leader/Chronicle’s photographer: Robert said he would come down and take some more photos of the camp and indeed he did, but he never spoke to us or visited the camp, preferring instead to take a long-shot, paparazzi-style, and run away.
When they say, “Don’t believe what you read in the newspaper.” they must have had disingenuous, lax and misleading reporting in mind; just as we are seeing from the Leader/Chronicle.
We will not be defeated or discouraged by lies, fictions and abuses of power. The Powers That (wanna) Be had better have all their ‘i’s dotted and ‘t’s crossed, be standing square in lawful precedent and demonstrate full respect for our human rights (including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) before they come down to our camp with the intention to persuade us or compel us to do anything.
Meanwhile, in the world of “Live the truth and then write about it”, things continue much as they have, with continuing support from local and not so local people; we have more regular visitors too, who seem grateful for our presence, are very supportive with practical things, and who say they welcome our knowledge and insights.
Love, peace, happiness and grace,
Prajna and Kazz