On Wednesday the 29th September 2010, at the end of what felt like one of the longest days, and years, of my life, I was found not guilty of the charge brought against me by the CPS.
When originally charged at the police station, I was informed there wasn’t any CCTV footage of the incident and also that my witness was a “figment of my imagination.” A grim few days followed and then this unfolded:
I contacted www.londoncyclist.co.uk and asked if they would tweet a witness appeal out to the masses. They subsequently fired my story out to thousands of followers. Thanks to many wonderful souls the story quickly went viral in only a few hours. One of those who read the story was Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent at the Evening Standard (@rosslydall).
Ross got in touch and an article was soon published in the Evening Standard. To my amazement, the “figment of my imagination” read that article and contacted me. Not just that, but another witness also read the article and came forward. Both of them witnessed my argument with the taxi driver and saw the taxi driver grab me by my scarf and violently strangle me unconscious.
My witness testified that on three separate occasions he attempted to explain and give his details to the arresting officer but was dismissed each time. This same arresting officer assured me, in his squad car and later at the police station, that he had taken the details of that witness.
Two months later, when that same officer informed me I was being charged for assault, I was horrified to discover the police had no record at all of my witness. My arresting officer denied that he had ever spoken to me about the witness and then suggested the witness was a figment of my imagination.
Not only did that witness exist, but he was so moved by what he had experienced that he wrote detailed notes of the whole incident and the following day went to his local police station to report his grievance and put himself forward as a witness.
For whatever reason, that police station did not forward those details onto the investigation. Thankfully their inaction didn’t prove costly, and his damning evidence and testimony were crucial in proving my innocence. As was the other witness, an Oxford Street shop manager, returning to work at the time, who saw the whole incident. I cannot thank them both enough.
Although obviously a huge personal victory for me, it’s also a wonderful illustration of the phenomenal power of social networking as a tool to empower those of us who don’t have a voice against authority. This simply could not have happened a few years ago. There are now, more than ever, fewer places for the bad people to hide.
Thank you, The Twitter, and huge thanks to all of you who helped share the love.