A political prisoner is being punished for speaking out. Could you be next?

Prison cell gates
Support us and go ad-free

A political prisoner, locked inside the private G4S prison HMP/YOI Parc in Bridgend, South Wales, is facing fresh repression for speaking out to the press about his treatment. Toby Shone is now banned from speaking to his loved ones, as well as his solidarity group, after the prison’s security team removed a number of contacts from his list of permitted phone numbers. This is just one of a series of actions that the state has taken to try to make Toby’s life hell and break his revolutionary and anti-capitalist spirit.

Brighton Anarchist Black Cross reported:

This together with interference with his post and emails is an attempt to hold him incommunicado in the jail.

He was formally notified of this decision…with the following reasons given: giving interviews over the phone, giving detailed information about staff at the prison which has then been published online, and hate speech against some prison staff.

Treated like a terrorist

Toby has been imprisoned since October 2021. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially tried to prosecute him under terrorism-related charges. The original allegations were that the 325 website – of which Shone was accused of being the editor, and which published reports of direct action – contained material that would be useful to terrorists, and that the site fundraised for terrorist activities. As The Canary reported in May 2022, the terrorism case against Toby fell apart and he was found not guilty of any charges relating to terrorism.

It will come as little surprise to the radical left in the UK that the state has attempted to throw about the term ‘terrorism’ willy-nilly, much as it has the words ‘domestic extremist’. They are terms that, since 9/11, have been used to generate fear among the public, and to create distrust in anyone who seeks a solution to the capitalist mess we live in. If the state had successfully managed to label Toby as a terrorist, it would have also ensured that he received little sympathy from the wider UK population.

But the CPS’s terrorism prosecution fell apart, and Toby was imprisoned under a relatively minor drugs-related conviction. However, this hasn’t prevented the state and its corporate servants from treating Toby as if he is guilty of terrorism. In May 2022, Toby’s lawyers went to court to prevent the police’s Counter-Terrorism Division from obtaining a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) against him. Toby said that the SCPO would have put him under “de facto house arrest”. It would have enabled the state to put most of his movements and communication under surveillance once he was released from prison.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Extreme conditions

Even though the state failed in imposing the SCPO against him, it is still doing its utmost to repress him by other means. The probation service now wants to impose harsh, restrictive licence conditions on him when he is released. Toby spoke out to The Canary about this fresh repression, which he said is “much more far-reaching than the SCPO”. He said that he wasn’t aware yet of the full extent of the proposed licence restrictions, but they include:

No contact with anybody from the movement deemed extremists…this could be anyone; give them access to all internet available devices; no ‘preaching’; all my social relationships monitored; having to reside at an AP [approved premises or bail hostel] for an extended period of time…

Toby said that the fact that the term ‘preaching’ is being used shows that he is being treated in the same category as religious ‘extremists’. He continued:

Literally in the probation OASIS report I am quantified as low risk. But the fact that I’m political, and have political opinions, qualifies me as high risk. So they’re saying I’m an extremist, basically. They’re referring to information that they hold against me, which they’re not divulging, or haven’t divulged yet. 

It could be any of us

Toby continued:

It seems like I’ve been designated a threat to national security on the basis that I’m an anarchist. And if they’re able to justify these anti-terrorist, anti-extremist licence restrictions – in my case which is based on information that they [said they] hold against me, but which culminated in a not guilty verdict – then they can apply it to anyone from the radical left or the anarchists that were arrested on a demo, or any kind of direct action, and apply these draconian licence conditions to them, through being able to label them as an extremist or a terrorist.

This became especially apt after a raft of new laws were passed through parliament. In June 2022, the full Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act finally came into force. Because of the new legislation, we are likely to see far more of these crackdowns on those who protest against government policies, or who take direct action against the corporate destruction of our Earth. And if the government manages to pass its provisions for Serious Disruption Prevention Orders in the Public Order Bill then conditions such as the ones Toby is facing could be used against people who’ve committed no criminal offence.

In 2021, the government passed the highly dangerous Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Act, also known as the ‘Spycops Bill’, which has legalised all activity of undercover police officers, at a time when undercover police are supposedly being investigated for abusing women.

This comes off the back of revelations in 2020, when we found out that the government had issued teachers with a guide to extremist groups as part of their Prevent strategy. Among the groups listed was Extinction Rebellion. This begs two questions: If a dogmatically pacifist group like XR is considered such a threat, then what must the state think of those who are doing more than blocking junctions with a bright-pink boat? And what measures are they taking, both overtly through these new laws and covertly through undercover intelligence, to try to shut them up permanently?

It would be foolish to believe that Toby Shone is an exception, and that his imprisonment and subsequent repression won’t happen to the rest of us. If you’re deemed a nuisance to the state or to corporate interests, you might well be next.

Featured image via PXHere

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

  • You can write to Toby at: Toby Shone A7645EP, HM Prison Parc, Heol Hobcyn John, Coity, Bridgend CF35 6AP
  • Donations can be made to: The Bottled Wasp
    Sort Code: 08-92-99
    Acc No: 65601648
    IBAN: GB35 CPBK 0892 9965 6016 48
    BIC: CPBK GB22
    Ref: ADREAM
  • Read our articles about Toby here and here, and read more about Toby’s case

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
      1. Why? Would you not like Cuba’s excellent health care system? It’s a flawed country like all countries but it has many strong points. Bear in mind the devastation and many unnecessary deaths being caused by the decades-long assault by the USA via sanctions.

    1. In general, the more we humans make, all the more we want/need to make next time. And when in corporate-CEO form, we typically become far worse. …

      A few successful social/labor uprisings notwithstanding, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that the superfluously rich essentially have always had the police and military ready to foremost protect their power/money interests, even over the basic needs of the masses.

      Even today, the police and military can, and probably would, claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; therefore, the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist. Thus, I can imagine there were/are lessons learned from those successful social/labor uprisings — a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps? — with the clarity of hindsight by the big power/money interests in order to avoid any repeat of such great wealth/power losses.

      When it comes to unhindered capitalism, I can see corporate CEOs shrugging their shoulders and defensively saying that their job is to protect shareholders’ bottom-line interests. The shareholders meanwhile shrug their shoulders while defensively stating that they just collect the dividends and that the CEOs are the ones to make the moral and/or ethical decisions.

      ______

      “It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a zero sum game — somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made; it’s simply transferred — from one perception to another. Like magic.” —the morbidly greedy and corrupt bank-financier Gordon Gekko’s reply to his increasingly exasperated young stockbroker protégé Bud Fox’s blunt question: When will it all be enough money for his mentor? (Wall Street, 1987)

      “Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market, and you’re part of it.” —Gordon Gekko to protégé Bud Fox

    2. Airlane 1979
      The Cuban government represseses and punishes dissent and public critism.
      Tactics include beatings, public shaming, travel restrictions, prison, fines, online haressment, surveillance and termination of employment.
      Viva Cuba.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.