Charlie Gilmour was sentenced to a 16-month spell in prison for acts of violent disorder in the December student protests.
The Cambridge Academic Campaign for Higher Education (CACHE), formed by dissenting dons in the wake of the student protests, today expressed its objection to Gilmour’s sentence in a letter published by The Guardian.
CACHE said: “As Cambridge University dons, we view with some disquiet the 16-month prison sentence imposed on Cambridge student, Charlie Gilmour, following his arrest during a student fees’ protest last winter.
“Manifestly exceeding a judicious and reasonable punishment for Charlie’s actions, the severity of this sentence seems primarily
‘exemplary': to warn young people that protest will be criminalised and punished to the maximum permissible extent. Those of us who are concerned to defend the right to dissent and protest in a democratic polity must speak out against the political message embodied by this extraordinary symbolic sentence.
“We must hope that that such worrying travesties of natural justice do not deter people of conscience from speaking up in these difficult times.”
The full text of the letter, and a list of signatories, can be viewed on Cambridge Defend Education’s website here.
Charlie Gilmour was handed a 16-month prison sentence today for his actions at a protest against increased tuition fees.
The second year Girtonian was charged on two counts of violent disorder:
-for kicking a window at Topshop on Oxford Street,
-for throwing a bin at a car carrying Prince Charles in the royal convoy.
His defence cited a traumatic family life and being “tranquillised out of my mind.” Gilmour allegedly took a mixture of valium, whiskey, and LSD on the day of the protest.
Gilmour arrives at court with his mother and step-father
Arrested in December, Gilmour pleaded gil-ty to the Topshop charge in May, but hadn’t yet entered a plea about the royal convoy. His hearing was held back so that he could sit his Tripos exams, in which he achieved a 2.1.
Gilmour, whose step-father is Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, drew wall-to-wall headlines after swinging from a Union flag attached to the Cenotaph at the December protests.
Although Cenotaph-swinging was not part of his conviction, the Judge slammed Gilmour for having “shown disrespect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to those who fell defending this country.”
He also binned the historian’s claim not to have known what the Cenotaph was, saying: “For a young man of your intelligence and education and background to profess to not know what the Cenotaph represents defies belief.
“I have to take into account that you have had many advantages which are denied to most young men who come before this court.
“In short, you should have known better than to engage in such a criminal and reprehensible way.”
The university stayed tight-lipped, refusing to offer any comment. Girton, however, released an official statement: “The College notes the gravity of the offence and is firmly opposed to public disorder. Due legal process has been observed, and Mr Gilmour has been tried and sentenced accordingly.”
Gilmour swinging from the Cenotaph
But other sources have been more vocal. Twitter exploded with Gilmour gossip earlier today, as ‘Charlie Gilmour’ rocketed to the no.1 trending topic for the UK, with thousands blasting the sentence as disproportionate and political.
Gilmour’s fellow students also appear to be sympathetic towards his sentence. A second year Girtonian, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Tab: “What Charlie did was idiotic, but there’s no way he deserves a 16 month sentence.”
The police-monitoring group Fitwatch told The Tab: “This is politically motivated sentencing designed to deter dissent – many people engaged in serious violence on a Saturday night do not get such long sentences.
“On all the protests there was police violence and abuses of power – several of which are subject to Judicial Review – and protesters facing court from the demos should be fighting their cases.”
The university refused to comment on whether Gilmour will be allowed to complete his degree after carrying out his sentence.