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Newham 8 Arrested

Eight youths were arrested and charged in September 1982 when fighting took place in Newham, East London, between a group of Asian youths and three police officers in plain clothes. Following a number of racist attacks at the Little Ilford school, a number of Asians had banded together to protect themselves and their fellow pupils from further assault. Police officers called out to an incident tried to arrest a youth who was carrying a hockey stick. Others, believing they were being attacked by racists, went to his aid.

At first, the youths were charged only with offences of threatening behaviour, criminal damage, assault and possession of offensive weapons, but in December, all eight were further charged with the much more serious offence of conspiracy to assault persons unknown. When the case came to trial, the conspiracy charge was dropped.

The prosecution maintained that the defendants were part of a 'vigilante group' that was out for revenge against a group of white people. The defence maintained, however, that the defendants had no motive other than self-defence against racial attack.

The trial ended in December [1983] with four defendants convicted and four acquitted. The jury convicted four of the youths on the most serious charge of affray but rejected all the other charges save for one count of common assault.

Runnymede Trust Bulletin, No 154, February 1984

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