Music Files (civil case)
As much as I would like to leave it at that, I feel compelled to give you a more detailed summary of what happened at the trial.
The MOJ presented 3 witnesses to give evidence. There were 2 other witnesses who, for reasons unknown, didn’t attend; including the member of staff I took to court for malicious falsehood in 2013. As you will read, they continue to conduct themselves in a less than truthful manner. I suspect that is the reason that particular member of staff was a no show; they would have faced cross-examination.
Witness 1 (the instructor): my experience of this guy over 2007 – 2010 was always positive. He came across as truthful and credible. In fact, so truthful that the MOJ’s factual case fell apart. They claimed that I had been on the first class when all the of the prisoners were told that they would only get a copy of completed recordings entered into the Koestler Trust competition. Witness 1 testified that I wasn’t on the first class but started weeks later; and he could not recall if he ever told me I wouldn’t get my work returned (he didn’t, I wouldn’t have started all that work had I known).
He went on to testify that the Apple Macs were never returned after they were removed for Security reasons. The MOJ wrote to me claiming that the Mac I had used had been returned to the class. They and The Manchester College also claimed this when my application for preservation of property was heard at the Chancery Division in 2013. The Judge dismissed my application at that time based on untrue evidence. He said that there was “no imminent danger” that my recordings would be deleted. They had probably been deleted at that point.
Chris Grayling, who was Secretary of State for Justice at that time, was also told the same lie when he looked into it in 2014. In fact, he was told that my recordings had been deleted when the Mac was returned to the prison. Which is what I was told by a Security Governor in 2014, after writing to HMP Frankland.
Lie after lie.
Witness 2 (the security Governor): this was an embarrassing performance from this guy. He answered, “I don’t know” and “I can’t remember” to virtually every question I asked. The Judge stepped in and asked if he was not embarrassed that as a Governor he did not know the answers to even the most basic questions; like, what happened to the Mac? He really did not want to be there and you could see that it rankled him that he, a Governor, was being questioned by me, a prisoner…a prisoner! It was pointless continuing with this guy.
What did come out of his testimony, though, was that he had been given misleading information that the Mac had been returned to the prison and my recordings deleted. Where did this emanate from? You guessed it, the member of staff who I took to court for malicious falsehood and who was a no show at this trial. It appears that all of the misleading information that had infected this case came from them. I say “misleading”, but you know I use that word euphemistically.
Witness 3 (the IT guy): I’ve no idea why the MOJ called him. They didn’t have any questions for him and neither did I as he was of no importance to the case; all he had done was to show me what files HMP Frankland had sent to HMP Wakefield and transfer the ones I wanted to keep to a CD, which was sent out. None of my HMP Frankland recordings were there. He looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights, so I guess he was quite relieved.
Up to that point, it had gone really well and, factually, all in my favour. Unfortunately, this was a case which would be won or lost on the law. The Judge confirmed that, under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, I was the author of the work and the owner of the copyright to the work; however, as I had never been in possession of the recordings, which were created on the MOJ’s computer, I did not own the recordings themselves; which left the MOJ free to do with them as they pleased. It’s a little difficult to see how destroying an estimated 286 hours of a prisoner’s work would assist in rehabilitation.
In the end, it was the intangibility of the recordings which sunk my case. In this country, property cases can only be won if the property is tangible. Electronic data falls into the category of being intangible. That also meant for my case that the MOJ could not be the ‘bailees’ of my property because intangible property cannot be transferred or possessed.
It was an extremely stressful day and, despite losing the case, I was relieved it was all over. That was 300 hours+ over 6 years; put another way, 12 ½ full days of my life or 8 working weeks. Well, what else was I going to do?
Be happy, be safe (and never let the disappointments in life crush your spirit).
Graham Coutts, 21st May 2017