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SACC Statement on the Arrest of Mick Napier

SACC pledges to support Mick Napier, charged with supporting a banned terrorist group in a speech made at a Glasgow protest against the Gaza genocide.

[Update - Glasgow Sheriff Court heard on 26 January that the terrorism charge against Mick Napier has been dropped.]

Mick Napier, a founder member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was arrested on Saturday 16 December during a protest against the genocide in Gaza. He was released later that day and appeared in Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday 19 December.

Following his arrest he was charged with five offences relating to events on Saturday 28 October, Saturday 18 November, Saturday 9 December and Saturday 16 December. They all relate to protests against the continuing genocide in Gaza. They include offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 of holding a procession in public without having given notice. They also include a charge of support for a proscribed organisation contrary to Section 12(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000.

SACC understands that the charge under the Terrorism Act 2000 arises from remarks Mick Napier made about Hamas during the protest on Saturday 16 December. Hamas was declared a proscribed organisation in the UK in November 2021, possibly as a result of discussions between Naftali Bennet and Boris Johnson during the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The military wing of Hamas has been proscribed in the UK since March 2001. Hamas has been designated in the US as a "foreign terrorist organisation" since October 1997.

In a publicly available video of Mick Napier's speech from Buchanan Street steps on 16 December he is heard saying:

"And I want say thank you as I said thank you many years ago before this bullshit. I want to repeat my thanks to Hamas because they won the election – now hear me out – they won the democratic election by a landslide in Palestine with observers from Scotland saying the election was free and fair. They won the election and they were punished and I thank them for showing to me and to millions of others that Britain’s commitment to democracy is a sham.

And I want to thank them for breaking out of the Gaza concentration camp on October 7th. Why? Why? Because everybody would do the same thing if they could. They were slated to die in Gaza. Their children were supposed to die in Gaza. Their grandchildren were supposed to die in Gaza. And they fought their way out. They fought their way out. And one of the heroes, one of the heroes, Marek Edelman, from the Warsaw Ghetto, who led the fighting in the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis, a hero if ever there was one in the history of the world, Marek Edelman wrote to the Palestinian resistance as comrades, as brothers, as fellow resisters against racist tyranny. He treated them as equals. He recognised his affinity with them. And so should we. Not because I agree with Hamas, I agree with the Palestinian right to resist by means that they choose."

These words, taken on their own, do not fall within what we in SACC believe to be the established scope of Section 12(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000. We would be deeply concerned were it to be established in law that remarks like this are indeed covered by the Act.

Mick Napier was clearly expressing his personal views as well as setting out some indisputable historical facts. SACC, as one of the organisations that backed the protest on 16 December, believes that it was entirely appropriate for Mick Napier to present these facts and put forward his views about them. We commend him for doing so and we will be supporting him in his legal fight.

The charges against Mick Napier contrast with the lack of action against those who make statements supportive of, or even glorifying or inciting, the genocide being carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza.

SACC is opposed to the powers to proscribe supposed "terrorist" organisations set out in the Terrorism Act 2000. We are particularly concerned at the use of these powers to proscribe organisations that are engaged in what might be regarded as liberation stuggles and have mass support in the areas in which they mainly operate. The problem is especially acute in the case of Hamas, since international law recognises the right of peoples living under colonial and racist regimes, foreign occupation and other forms of colonial domination to engage in struggle, including armed struggle, and recognises that this right applies to the Palestinian people.

The proscription of Hamas in the UK, US and other countries creates a rationale for the mass slaughter of Palestinians and is creating the conditions for genocide in Gaza. It makes it difficult or impossible for the US and UK to support any position that could lead to a negotiated settlement of the Gaza conflict. The result is a diplomatic impasse that leaves Israel free to try to create "facts on the ground" that may eventually leave no practicable way forward besides mass displacement of the population of Gaza and the annexation or partial annexation of Gaza by Israel, contrary to the policy professed by the US and UK.

The Israeli government, in its statements since 7th October, appears to have deliberately deprived itself of any exit strategy from Gaza. The UK government, through its banning of Hamas, has locked itself into the same dead end. It is impossible to avoid concluding that this is a deliberate strategy of the UK government.

These are matters that demand wide and urgent public discussion. The proscription of Hamas under UK law is having a seriously chilling effect on that discussion. The charges brought against Mick Napier do not change the fact that much of what needs to be said can be said without risk of prosecution. We urge everyone opposed to the genocide in Gaza to be much more active in pursuing this discussion than has so far been the case.

Israeli policy is to try to isolate groups like SPSC that give robust support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel from the wider movement for Palestinian rights. Charges brought against Mick Napier over the years - mostly unsuccessfully - appear to us to reflect that strategy. It is very important that all of us in the diverse, multi-faceted struggle for Palestinian freedom continue to support one another.

SACC joins with the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign in urging everyone to maintain and intensify all their activity for Palestinian freedom.

Photo: Palestinians entering Israeli territory east of Khan Younis, 7 October 2023. © Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock. Anas-Mohammed is a news photographer based in Gaza.


1. Section 12(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 is as follows:

(1) A person commits an offence if -

(a) he invites support for a proscribed organisation, and

(b) the support is not, or is not restricted to, the provision of money or other property (within the meaning of section 15).

(1A) A person commits an offence if the person -

(a) expresses an opinion or belief that is supportive of a proscribed organisation, and

(b) in doing so is reckless as to whether a person to whom the expression is directed will be encouraged to support a proscribed organisation.

2. Jonathan Hall KC, the UK Government's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, published on 23 November 2023 a report on Terrorism Legislation and Protests. In relation to Section 12(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 he wrote:

"Not covered are expressions of personal beliefs or personal approval for a proscribed organisation, or invitations to someone else to share that opinion or belief. This conduct, assuming it does not cross the line into inviting support, does not amount to the offence under section 12(1). Nor is it an offence oneself to give moral support for a proscribed organisation"

The report can be found here.

3. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) has issued a statement about Mick Napier's arrest. It can be found here.

4. Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) was set up in early 2003 to campaign for the repeal of all of the UK's terrorism legislation. The proscription powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 have always been a particular concern for us.  These powers were a key reason why our sister organisation, the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) was set up in early 2001. The impending ban on the PKK was then a central issue, prompting protests at which people wore T-shirts saying "I am PKK."

5. SACC is affiliated to the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee (GGEC), which organised the protest in Glasgow on 16 December.

6. Mick Napier is represented by solicitor Kevin Connor of WSA Criminal Defence Lawyers in Edinburgh.

7.  Glasgow Sheriff Court was told on 26 January that the Crown had dropped the terrorism charge against Mick Napier.  SPSC statement here.

8. We remind our supporters and everyone concerned over this case that legal proceedings are live and there should be no comments or reporting that creates a substantial risk that the court will be seriously impeded or prejudiced.