Ronnie Easterbrook – “Britain’s oldest political prisoner” – on Death Fast
The following post was written by Brighton ABC
Ronnie Easterbrook is a 78year old career criminal, who is serving a ‘whole life’ tariff sentence after a failed armed robbery in 1987. Following his recent transferred to Gartree prison in Leicestershire, he has decided to try one last hunger strike to highlight his claims for a retrail.
Ronnie, from south London, was convicted in 1988 of the attempted murder of a policeman during an armed robbery that was set up by the police and in which the only person who died was his fellow would-be robber who was shot dead by the police. Through information from an informant, Police had lain in wait, with a TV camera crew in-tow and ambushed the gang. The man shot dead by the Police, Tony Ash, was unarmed and already surrendering to them.
Ronnie has campaigned relentlessly since then for his conviction to be overturned, refusing to become involved in applications for parole or early release. He had wanted to mount a political defence at his trial, arguing that the infamous ‘shoot to kill’ policy adopted by the British state in Northern Ireland had now been taken up by the Met. Police in pursuit of criminal gangs. However his barrister at the time refused to follow his instructions and Ronnie himself refused a prosecution deal, so he was forced to defend himself in court, without legal representation.
Handed down a Life sentence (originally with a whole-life tariff, itself highly unusual given the circumstances of his case), Ronnie held one of the longest dirty protests in the British prison system and undertook a 60 day hunger strike 10 years ago to try to force the authorities to review his case. Now at 78 years old this hunger strike, after 20 years fighting the system, is likely to be his final act of resistance to the unfair trial and unjust treatment he has received. Physically weakened by previous protests and in ill health (he only has one lung), Ronnie has made an advance directive/living will to refuse any medical intervention in this hunger strike. He writes:
“Many will say: ‘ Well he is only a criminal.’ True but if the protective aspects of the law do not apply to me, it follows that there is no law. Hitler started by excluding sections of the German populations from protection of the law. State evil can always find ‘reasons’ disguised as righteousness. “After 20 years inside, I have been held a political prisoner, or a prisoner of politics. I refuse to go through a parole process. Why should I when the authorities, Home Office and Judiciary, know they are holding me illegally?”
It’s vital that all efforts are made to get the authorities to re-open Ronnie’s case so the callous indifference shown by the powerful to one of the powerless is reversed.
Ronnies sentence was reduced twice, from whole life to 16 years and from 16 to 12 and a half years. As he went to prison in 1988 his tariff expired in 2000. Ronnie refuses to participate in the parole process, saying like many other prisoners who consider they are wrongfully convicted, that he is only prepared to leave prison by the front door.
Write to him at;
Ronnie Easterbrook (B58459)
Gallow Field Road
Jacqui Smith, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
3rd Floor, Peel Buildings
2 Marsham Street
Fax: 020 8760 3132
Also to local MP for Market Harborough:
Edward Garnier QC MP
House of Commons
020 7219 4034 or
020 7219 6524
020 7219 2875