Ridiculous Sentence for Edward Woollard

Been meaning to post on this all day, but I’m disgusted by the 32 month sentence that has been handed down to Edward Woollard – the 18 year old student protester who threw a fire extinguisher off Tory party HQ.

Let’s be clear: what he did was awful. It could have killed someone. It was a very stupid thing to do.

But, nobody was hurt. And he immediately confessed what he had done, has shown very genuine remorse, and has been written many references to attest to his good character. This was a genuine moment of madness. And while he should clearly be punished I think the price he is paying – a 32 month sentence – is too high. He is being made an example of.

Let’s put this into context. Someone I know was also on those student protests. They were held in a ‘kettle’ by the police. The person I know wears glasses. She is a post-grad in English, and couldn’t be further from being a violent protester. Yet a policeman reached over the front line of police and smashed her in the face, breaking her glasses and causing her concussion. Actual injury. His punishment? Nothing.

Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper vendor, was walking away from the G20 protests in April 2009 when he was struck by a policeman. He fell to the floor and died. The policeman will not face criminal proceedings because of a legal technicality.

Many many students were injured by police in the protests – students who had simply gathered, and were not being violent themselves. A man was dragged out of his wheelchair. And yet the full force of the law – the full force of establishment disgust – comes down on one scapegoat, who happens to be Edward Woollard.

We should be ashamed of prison sentences like this. Community service, yes. Appropriate punishment, of course. But to send a young man to prison for all this time is a disgraceful way to ruin his life – and a hugely expensive one at that. I hope he appeals and wins. And that the curmudgeonly old judge who passed sentence will remember something of his own youth and see that this is no way to rehabilitate someone who has had one moment of madness – do that, or chase after the police who actually did cause tremendous harm on that day.


7 responses to “Ridiculous Sentence for Edward Woollard”

  1. Alistair Duncan


    I do basically agree with you but it does highlight the fact that civil disobedience also requires the highest moral standards to reinforce the message and not give grounds for reproach viz-a-viz Martin Luther King / Gandhi. It’s a much lesser issue but the students who occupied Goldsmith’s library as a protest – wrecked the place and stole books, etc., etc behaved like arses basically. Protest must be discipled even in the face of corruption in the ruling bodies.

  2. His sentence is not that harsh.
    He will be well looked after inside.
    Fresh fish always are.

  3. “Civil disobedience also requires the highest moral standards to reinforce the message.”

    Absolutely. And the example you give is a total disgrace. Couldn’t agree more. What troubles me though, as you suggest, is that people are ignoring the fact that policing civil disobedience requires the highest moral standards too. And this patently has not happened and nothing is really being done about it. So it ends up bloody harsh on Woollard as the establishment vents its spleen on him, while police get a nod and a wink and carry on smacking people about.

  4. Oh, and thanks for the link Dr John. For those who can’t be bothered to check it out, it’s the sodomising in the shower scene from The Shawshank Redemption. So thanks for that.

  5. Alistair Duncan

    Yup. I totally agree with you. My info about the Goldsmith’s situation came from my daughter who is there and she was also subject to kettling in a protest last year and it was totally unacceptable what she experienced there too.

    The only other thing I would add is that as 2011 begins -those of us who like to philosophise about these moral issues also need to make sure we are also getting out there on the streets and being counted.

  6. I had a lump hammer thrown at me by an insane drugged up neighbour, the police response was that I was being a fussy woman.
    I agree the sentence for Woollard is much longer than those shown in similar cases where harm is actually done so it suggests to me that if you are an innocent civvy, the police dont give a monkeys but if it risks upsetting the apple cart, you get serious time. I wish I could sit down face to face with Woollard’s judge and ask what he thinks of these double standards, his ilk revel in.

  7. He deserves every day of that sentence. Students will always justify other students stupid behaviour in their usual ‘we are the future/solidarity’ beliefs. Being a student means you havent qualified to do a damn thing yet, and many of them never will. (And yes, i’m a Grad).

    That no-one was hurt was nothing short of miraculous, and as lucky for him as the potential victim(s) who would have died on impact.