Part 6 - Gangs: how to exclude so called gang evidence in criminal trials and challenging the Joint Enterprise narrative

Tuesday 13 October 2020

The Garden Court Chambers Criminal Defence Team brings you a series of online events on 'Drill music, gangs and prosecutions – challenging racist stereotypes in the criminal justice system'

Winners of the Legal 500 Crime Set of the Year, Garden Court Chambers is one of the leading criminal defence barristers' chambers in the UK. 

Book your place below to receive joining details for the whole event series. If you had already signed up for Parts 1-5 in our series you do not need to re-register. 

Date: Tuesday 13 October 2020
Time: 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Criminal Defence , Youth Justice & Child Rights

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Part 6 - Gangs: how to exclude so called gang evidence in criminal trials and challenging the Joint Enterprise narrative

In the sixth and final part of our BLM series our panel will provide guidance and advice on how to oppose the introduction of so called gang evidence in a Criminal trial. There will be clear and thoughtful analysis of the Joint Enterprise doctrine with suggestions for opposing and or limiting it's use in the Criminal Courts. You will also hear expert testimony on how the Joint Enterprise doctrine and prosecution gang narrative causes disproportionate punishment of Black youth. Webinar handouts will be made available.

Event Series

The Black Lives Matter Movement has highlighted the racist nature of the legal system. The scales need to be rebalanced so there is no discrimination from the decision to stop and search to the jury’s verdict. The whole system needs to be representative of the community it serves. Maybe then justice will be done and seen to be done.

In many trials the State’s starting point and narrative is racist. Groups of Black youths who have a connection to Drill music, despite their good character and positive aspirations, are wrongly assumed to be members of violent criminal gangs overnight. Police officer ‘experts’ provide evidence of association in parks and ‘on the road’,  they ‘translate’ Drill lyrics, so called gang signs and then pronounce on turf and territories. There is often an imbalance when the defence respond. Legal arguments fail to exclude irrelevant or prejudicial material. Defence experts are rarely called.  During the summing up, all too often,  the prosecution stereotypes remain unchallenged.

The consequences are often devastating with swathes of Black youth being convicted on the back of superficially persuasive gang narratives despite never holding a weapon, being involved in any assault or being part of a gang. The devastation continues with the lurid headlines that accompany the convictions and the vicious circle starts again.

But the State doesn’t stop there. The police continue to use stop and search in a discriminatory and arbitrary manner; they employ the so called gang matrix to criminally categorise and to keep Black youth under surveillance and they ban Drill artists from performing their music, threatening to lock them up if they don’t obey. All of this on the back of centuries of oppression.

In an attempt to rebalance the scales in the legal arena, the Garden Court Chambers Criminal Defence Team is running a series of webinars that examine the State’s criminalisation of Black youth through racist stereotypes of gangs and Drill music. During this journey we will be acknowledging and celebrating the expertise of Black lawyers, Black artists and Black professionals. We are ambitious and hope that one day something along these lines will be used during the training of judges and lawyers.

Speakers, 5pm, Tuesday 13 October 2020 

Keir Monteith QC, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Keir Monteith QC is a highly sought-after leading silk who represents clients facing heavyweight criminal allegations. He has been instructed in numerous murders, industrial scale Class A drug importations and conspiracies, escape from custody cases and Appeals against conviction and sentence. He is the external advisor on the Arts & Humanities Research Council grant, 'Prosecuting Rap: Criminal Justice and UK Black Youth Expressive Culture' (2020-21​), sits as part time judge and initiated the BLM series of webinars at Garden Court Chambers.

His appeal cases include R v PK where the Court of Appeal agreed that the appellant had not been advised that he had a defence and that this defence would have ‘quite probably’ succeeded and, exceptionally, almost 10 years out of time the conviction was quashed.​ In the case of Trim, Keir obtained leave five and a half years out of time, and the sentence was reduced from an indefinite sentence of imprisonment for public protection to a community order. 

Ali Bajwa QC, Garden Court Chambers
Ali is a highly ranked Queen's Counsel specialising in violent crime, fraud and terrorism. He has acted in important and high-profile cases include the 'Skyman' brainwashing murder trial, R v Michael Piggin, the Leicester house fire trial, the 'Southwark rapist' trial, the Pakistan cricket spot fixing trial, the 'airline liquid bomb' trial, and a number of joint enterprise murder trials.

Thalia Maragh, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Thalia Maragh Thalia's practice has been predominantly defending in serious crimes and acting for bereaved families in Article 2 inquests. ​She is currently instructed on behalf of bereaved, residents and survivors in the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry and is ranked as leading individual in the Legal 500. Thalia has over 15 years of experience as a criminal advocate. She has defended in a range of offences including murder, rape, historical sexual offences and other violent crimes. 

Emma Fenn, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
​​Emma Fenn is a specialist criminal defence barrister with a particular interest in serious violence, financial crime and child abuse cases. She is regularly instructed in a wide range of criminal cases in courts across London and throughout the rest of the country.  She also conducts advisory work in relation to appeals and CCRC applications. Emma is ranked as a leading individual for crime in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.

Becky Clarke, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University
Becky Clarke is a Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department at Manchester Metropolitan University. Before joining academia in 2014, she worked for 15 years in applied research and policy roles across the criminal justice system, including overseeing local and national research contracts examining police, court and probation practice as Head of Research and Policy for Greater Manchester Probation. 

She is co-author of the 2016 report ‘Dangerous Associations: Joint enterprise, gangs and racism’, which exposed the significance of the process of racialisation in joint enterprise prosecution strategies. She is currently working on a collaborative project examining the prosecution of women in joint enterprise trials, the report from this project ‘Stories of Injustice’ is due to launch in November 2020.​


Event Series 

Part 1: Understanding Drill – artist and expert testimony
5pm-6.30pm, Tuesday 8 September 2020

Part 2 - Challenging the admissibility of Drill music in criminal trials
5pm-6.30pm, Tuesday 15 September 2020

Part 3 - Drill music injunctions and Ancillary Orders
5pm-6.30pm, Tuesday 22 September 2020

Part 4 - Debunking prosecution myths: “Gang” stereotypes, joint enterprise & racist driven stop & searches
5pm-6.30pm, 29 September 2020

Part 5 - Gangs: Pre-trial issues and Criminal Behaviour Orders
5pm-6.30pm, 6 October 2020

Part 6 - Gangs: how to exclude so called gang evidence in criminal trials and challenging the Joint Enterprise narrative
5pm-6.30pm, 13 October 2020

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