Tony Cox Trial - Solidarity with welfare activist arrested for accompanying a claimant
On 13th October demonstrators from around Scotland gathered at Forfar sheriff court in solidarity with welfare activist Tony Cox, on trial for representing a vulnerable claimant at Arbroath jobcentre.
Over 60 activists from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Action Against Austerity, Dundee Against Austerity, AFed, IWW, GAC and Tony’s own Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network came from Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and Aberdeen to support Tony. On 12th October, demonstrations in solidarity with Tony took place outside jobcentres throughout the UK. In Edinburgh ECAP were at High Riggs, Leith and Musselburgh jobcentres.
SUWN say about the trial and demo at Forfar ‘So we’re back from a day’s entertainment at Forfar Sheriff Court where we watched Tony’s lawyer methodically demolish the DWP’s witnesses so that the Procurator Fiscal was forced to drop their charge of threatening behaviour all together. The case isn’t finished – we had to spend most of the day waiting around – but when we come back on the 18th November, it will only be for the other two charges’.
Tony stood trial under the charges of resisting arrest and threatening behaviour. He was at the jobcentre to renegotiate the claimant's commitment of a dyslexic claimant for whom the computer-based Universal Jobmatch was particularly unsuitable. The charges laid against Tony are part of a wider attack on claimants’ right to have an advocate in the jobcentre.
On 10th September the ground floor of High Riggs Jobcentre in Edinburgh was closed as jobcentre managers refused jobseeker Adam his right to be accompanied by ECAP activist Mike. Direct action and solidarity both on the day and on 14th September helped Adam and Mike win a tremendous victory as the DWP was forced to back down.
The huge solidarity Tony has received from comrades throughout the UK, from ECAP and DAA in Scotland to Boycott Workfare and Liverpool IWW in England, conveys a clear message: Advocacy Is Not A Crime and we are going to continue to defend the right for claimants to be accompanied to job centres.
The right to be accompanied to benefits interviews - http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/32