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Exodus Collective post-mortem – Glenn Jenkins Speaks

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  • From 1992-2000, the Exodus Collective of Bedfordshire, England were responsible not only for a large number of underground parties but succesfully squatted and purchased a large piece of land formerly owned by the British Government, and were literally on the verge of kicking off an amazing communal housing / lifestyle venture.

    They were the inspiration to other crews around the UK (not least those in Reading – and made national and international press with mostly positive reports of their exploits. They fought off not only the powerful in the Council and Police, but even the Freemasons!

    Then, sadly, the collective exploded amongst allegations of violence, teritorrialism against other local crews, hard drug use and general bad behaviour. The group fell apart to the extent where there entire sound system got put through a crusher by the local council and no one was there to protest this as those perceived to “own” it had made so many enemies 🙁

    I won’t post the allegations here as I’m not the sort of person who likes stirring up these things; but searching on the other rave sites and newsgroups (or even speaking to any party person who was about from 1998-2001) will soon turn them up (and it is is not nice stuff).

    However, their former spokesman Glenn Jenkins has had the courage and tenacity to speak out about what led to the demise of the collective. Its hard reading; but like a fireman poking about the wreckage of a burnt building his aim is undoubtedly to warn those planning collective ventures of potential pitfalls; maybe his words will prevent the demise of another similar venture.

    Hey there,

    I used to go to Exodus raves all the time and knew all the guys. I left Luton a long time ago and often wonder how they all got on.

    I am very interested in the article you mention (Glenn speaks out) but the link does not work. Any chance you could post a new link or copy the text in a post?

    Much appreciated,

    I used to have their number but it never went active then one day it did but then never told you where the party was. was odd. not that I was trying to attend it mind.

    @DavidT 414348 wrote:

    Hey there,

    I used to go to Exodus raves all the time and knew all the guys. I left Luton a long time ago and often wonder how they all got on.

    I am very interested in the article you mention (Glenn speaks out) but the link does not work. Any chance you could post a new link or copy the text in a post?

    Much appreciated,

    squall have ceased their domain and I didn’t think to grab the text (I don’t like robbing other folks content).

    try here for their current stuff

    Leviticus Comm-Unity | Movement of Jah People

    Thanks for that,

    I have had a good look around the web and found lots of allusions to how it all ended. One particularly sad story relays that their equipment was seized but not one of them had the wherewithal to go claim it, so the council trashed it. Very sad. I do know from my own experience that hard drugs played a part and the last party I went to was full of thugs selling water at five quid a bottle. However, I cannot find an actual break-down of what went wrong, when and why.

    Do you know of any other forums that cover this?

    Thanks again,


    Part One (interview with former spokesmanGlenn Jenkins)

    The Exodus Collective built up a remarkable and well deserved reputation for organising large free raves and renovating derelict properties in the Luton area over a ten year period. Their work inspired several television and radio documentaries, and generated more column inches of press coverage than any other group of its kind. So why did it all collapse in a heap in 2000. For the first time, former spokesperson Glenn Jenkins answers the questions which mystified many……..

    ……and reveals how an even bigger project is now well on its way.

    Regular readers of SQUALL will be aware that in their extraordinary ten-year history the Exodus Collective faced off relentless attempts by the political establishment and local police to stop them in their tracks. However, their avowedly non-commercial, non-violent, pro-active community stance earned them a deep respect in a wide cross section of the community. From inner city youth to church organisations. And this respect proved stronger than even the more malicious of their detractors.

    Ultimately even Bedfordshire County Council voted for a full-scale public enquiry into a series of malevolent police operations against Exodus, including drug plants and fabricated murder charges.

    The Collective’s unique confluence of spiritual ideals and roughneck knowledge of the inner city helped foster a unique combination of the caring and the cutting edge. As a consequence they offered radical yet simple solutions to inner city regeneration and didn’t wait around for permission to put them into action. The Collective campaigned vigorously for social justice and was an instrumental political force against the commercialisation of modern dance culture. Using the credibility they garnered with some large landowners they succeeded in hosting the annual Free the Spirit Festival, a massive free festival which in its fourth year obtained a licence without any compromise of its cultural identity. This was a rare feat.

    But after ten years of prolific activity, things fell apart at the Fourth Free the Spirit Festival in 2000. Some members of the Collective thought the spiritually-principled voluntary ethic of the Collective should be laid aside to make money, and a hasty downfall precipitated. Many people outside Luton were mystified at the sudden collapse of such an inspiring movement and to this day it is not generally known what happened. In the first part of a series of examinations on what happened to the Exodus Collective – and how even bigger projects are now fermenting in Luton – SQUALL interviews Glenn Jenkins, Exodus’ elected spokesperson from 1992 until its demise in 2000.

    SQUALL: Two years on now from the end of the Exodus Collective, what is the condensed version of what happened?

    GLENN J: There came a point where we had to realise the consensus which we operated on wasn’t there to enough of a degree. That there was a sizeable portion of people who wanted to move things in a different direction than the one we had originally embarked on together. And that maybe doesn’t sound like too big a thing but when you’re talking about your Modus Operandi – what you do, why you do it, and what you do it for – then these are big differences that were growing under the surface. Not being verbalised in meetings but growing anyway.

    SQUALL: What was the new MO being put forward?

    GLENN J: It was the rejection of the strictures, the disciplines. Some of the rigid things we held ‘in house’ in terms of our practices. It was about our stance… our platform. And the ways of dealing with fundamental principles to do with spirit and a consensus on non-violence.

    SQUALL: What were the differences in the consensus on non-violence?

    GLENN J: Exodus has never been a green fringe thing. It’s an urban thing and we all come from that world so there’s no sort of judgement going on whether, if you punch someone in the face, you’re a bad person full stop. It’s just about whether you’re looking to get away from that way of doing things or not. And the consensus disappeared on whether that was something we had to get away from. About whether we might have to deal with things in a different way if people come at us. If you adopt ‘meeting fist with fist’ as a philosophy… then spiritually we’ve divorced. And the non-violence was one part of the consensus which was lost in terms of our own personal behaviours for lots of us. And the philosophies of non violence seemed to turn to bollocks for some people. And they’d say ‘Ah shut up with that bollocks’ when our non-violent stance was talked about.

    And I guess a part of me didn’t want to believe we were losing the consensus. But we were.

    SQUALL: What about collective decision-making?

    GLENN J: Yeah that became increasingly less. Two years on I can look back and say there’s things what went wrong in terms of our meeting structures. Not so much in attendance but in saying what you feel. In saying: ‘I think this is bollocks’, rather than just going with it because it’s the direction that was collectively stated previously. More honest discussion about what’s going on…. even if it offends the platform you’re standing on, it should be said. And those things weren’t being said but they were maybe being done, and action speaks louder than words. So it’s no good coming to a meeting and saying, ‘Yeah yeah yeah’, and then saying ‘Nah nah nah’ when you’re not at the meeting… when you’re supposed to be carrying out the principles of what you’d agreed within the gathering. So again we lost the consensus, we lost the collective meetings. They actually became bigger as the situation stoked up because it was a major issue all of a sudden. But the respect for the meetings was lost in a big flank of the people. We were not a ‘let’s have a vote and the majority rules’ type organisation at the time because if you’re a spiritual battalion then you can’t vote me out of my non-violent principles. I’d have to leave the space if the group decided that. You couldn’t vote me out of my ‘let’s not be millionaires’ principle. If it’s alright to be a millionaire then spiritually it’s not the right place for me to be in. So, with consensus, if we can’t agree we stop and discuss and thrash it out and arrive at consensus before we move. But we lost that because people were moving ahead despite not agreeing with it.

    SQUALL: So people were moving in disparate directions without finding out whether there was a consensus to back up what they were doing?

    GLENN J: What I was doing in the same way was what I was always doing. Moving it forward, driving it where it needs to be and defending it when it’s attacked. And because that’s such a busy thing, such a head full job… what I was doing was what I thought we was always doing, striving hard not to be the Romans that we were born. At the time I had many a chat with SQUALL about the malaise that was gathering – but it took me by surprise when one of our eyes had gone. A flank of the movement with people in there who’d been there as long as me, who’ve sworn it as tight as I have and had now decided to go in a direction despite what the collective consensus was.

    After the Free the Spirit Festival, we ground to a halt. Spiritually you can’t go ahead together if you haven’t got this consensus and clearly we had disagreements in the camp. After we ground to a halt there were parts of the Exodus Collective who thought it’s more important to put events on than sit around talking about these bullshit issues.

    SQUALL: You mean the raves?

    GLENN J: The raves, the work on the farm… the whole programme. You have to understand that members of the collective are there on condition of loving these principles that we’re on. And all of a sudden if those principles aren’t there anymore then you can’t put your work into it. You can’t put your back into it because you would be building something you don’t agree with. So anyway Exodus’ activities came to a grinding halt and we had meeting after meeting after meeting. People shouting at each other and all of that kind of thing. It was like a divorce. We had our arguments. We had rare-ups. And when we realised we couldn’t be a family again, then a fair section of the people couldn’t stay there and removed themselves. The hardest thing is to keep your principles and know that your principles are bigger than the bricks and mortar which is looking you hard in the face at the moment. But there’s a broader picture that helps us keep our principles rather than drop ’em for some bricks. If there wasn’t a wider picture it might have been even more difficult to deal with than it was.

    SQUALL: You said that a lot of things weren’t said at meetings for a period and then it all started coming out. What precipitated the collapse, what circumstances brought about the final grinding to a halt?

    GLENN J: The last Free the Spirit Festival…….

    What happened at the festival was that the gaps in our shared direction – which in hindsight existed clearly – blew up. For me, representing some of the hearts and minds in the collective establishing the Free the Spirit Festival was ultimate victory. We’d squatted land for years with a view to freeing up that land. We’d established a template for a licensed festival where the licence was cut round the culture rather the culture being cut to fit the licence. But some people in the Collective didn’t see it like that. Maybe it felt to them like we were letting go of the reigns. But we’d always said this was for the people. What we were fighting for is the space for a community to organise itself. We weren’t fighting to become the new landlords. It wasn’t all about us saying this is now our space and we’ll let the people in sort of thing. So I believe there was some people in the Collective who felt that this is ours.

    SQUALL: Exodus’s you mean?

    GLENN J: Yeah man.

    SQUALL: And Exodus run tings?

    GLENN J: You have to look at this in a balanced way. You couldn’t say: ‘Exodus Collective you lot lost it and think you run tings’ and all that kind of thing. Because there are people who attend the events who are used to people who run the space. What we’re trying to forge here is community self-policing and all this kind of thing. But people were content to leave it to us. So for the fourth Free the Spirit Festival that responsibility was a heavy load on an already creaking back. I could give you lots of examples like people coming and selling drugs, all this kind of stuff coming at us. But what happened at the Festival was that the underlying boil popped and, thank God, apart from those of us who were actively putting the festival on infrastructurally, the tens of thousands of people who came had a seriously beautiful time. But the people who were putting it on were fucked at the end of it. It was the most horrible period of my life. Seriously, I’ve never been under anything like that before. On a level like that when our Collective has all gone horrible. So then for me there began misty city ‘til now and still now to some degree. Cos there’s a lot of different emotions involved. But I don’t write this book. I’m just a actor playing a part of life and because we’re not plotters and planners, we’re just living out the experience with all its grooves and turns. I might perceive a framework or a sketch but then there’s the actual finished article, which is a serious work of art if you like as the organic development unfolds. But then there’s been twists and turns which I personally wouldn’t have written into the story.

    And it’s only later on that you realise you’re a fool because you’re not aware of why these things happen for the greater bigger good. So there’s a lot of pain and a lot of fucking confusion. Divorce, but on a different level.

    SQUALL: In the immediate aftermath of the festival describe what was happening in the Collective and at HAZ manor?

    GLENN J: Well obviously there was a devastation for one. That’s how I felt. That’s an understatement as it goes. I can’t think of a word about how I felt actually. And the way I felt was shared by quite a few people in the Collective. Confused to some degree. There was different levels, some surprised, some not… because the situation had been growing and there were people who noticed it a lot more than me because they were on the ground in house [Glenn lives with his wife and four children on a nearby housing estate and not in one of Exodus’s housing project]. ‘Surprise’ is perhaps the wrong word, ‘taken off guard’ might be better. There were ‘domestics’ going on which became heightened and there was an inability by us to be able to do what we did anymore in terms of being an open caring door. Other people felt it was our downfall that we were this open door, that we let idiots in. We had different outlooks on life now all of a sudden.

    But there was a bigger picture, something almost mystical about it all that was holding me together personally and that was: ‘Fuck me man we have just done it and then it happened. We done what we set out to do with the festival and freeing up land for community use… all that trek for years… occupy, occupy, occupy… leaving landlords and landowners letters and even poems saying ‘Free up the land’… and the land was freed up and the badamm!… we blew up. It was verging on the mystical and I was thinking this could have happened six months ago and we wouldn’t have been where we were. And the plans for a big community centre run by the community for the community were on the horizon. The public enquiry was on the horizon [a groundbreaking public inquiry into systematic police malevolence against the Collective had been voted for by Bedfordshire County Council]. Big tings were still there despite the fact that we had popped as a Collective… and it’s that that preventing me from collapsing in a heap I think. And that’s why I understand people who did collapse in a heap… because maybe they weren’t in the ‘crows nest’ department looking out from the bridge. They were ground warriors. There were people dropping in a heap and saying fucking hell my life’s just been torn up. So there was serious devastation about the place. And a series of months where we went through meeting after meeting. Personally speaking I went through a period of time where I believed we had to pull it together. I was in a state where the only way was pulling it together or otherwise it was the end of it. It felt like a book closing at such a crucial time. So it was well weird… the mixed emotions. And I was stuck on pulling it together but as things developed there was a sizeable team of people who wanted to drop the principles. Because it’s heavy to strive to be better, rather than go “well that’s the way I am so that’s it”. Most people get to a stage in their life when they get tired of striving for change and they think “I’m getting older and I’ve got to make my space”.

    So anyway it came to that point where I had to realise there was a bigger picture and I focused on that and trying not to let the high emotion stop me fulfilling that. Because I felt if we stopped moving with the bigger picture then not only was it the end of the book but also a serious victory for badness over what’s right. Because it would be really bad for us to strive for so long to free up land ‘by the people for the people’ and it all goes in the shape of pear. So I was driven by that and to some degree that anaesthetised me from some of the everyday having-to-sit-and-wallow-in-it-pain that goes with that. So I was blessed in a way. But to the people who couldn’t do anything other than that because they were plunged into a situation of homelessness… you know we were always so much more than a housing co-op or a dance. As a Collective we were a battalion. I believe in a movement which is worldwide and people picked up and strive for this movement. The global anti-capitalist campaigns are a part of the movement. It’s everywhere. And the Collective was a single battalion of many for change and the collective became unwilling to continue with that burden of responsibility and so we separated in terms of our everyday activity and stance. It’s painful shit.

    SQUALL: When did you finally decide that the Collective couldn’t pull it back together and how did you finally announce that you could no longer be the spokesperson and that the battalion had expanded?

    GLENN J: There were internal declarations made, ie I said to those people that if we’re not bound by the same principles, disciplines and agreements as we were before then I can’t be there. Basically that was my choice and that was all good.

    SQUALL: Did you wake up one morning and say ‘right that’s it I’ve given it enough time?’

    GLENN J: Nah. It was over months. I was in a period of believing in my heart that we would get over this. Somehow or another people would – how I would see it – wake up to what they were doing away with. But it didn’t happen and that took months. And then it took me months. I think in a way I started to set myself mental deadlines. But then things happened which released me from that because it put me in a headspace of thinking: “this is the end of a chapter not the end of a book”.

    Exodus means to go on a trek – many of you – from one space to another. But when you reach the other then the Exodus has actually finished for you and then you’ve got a building job to do within the principles and doing battle in the new place. Next round, next chapter. And when I was able to get into that headspace with a bit of help from Bob Marley and all that, I was able to feel differently about it. It’s the same mission. I always thought that HAZ Manor and the farm were gonna be major demonstrations to people who don’t believe in collectivity and that kinda way of doing things; of the success of those. In my book I would have written it so the manor and the farm would be perfect examples of spiritually sound, physically and materially beautiful projects and then we would have gone out with those on your heart and sleeve and say if you can’t see what we’re talking about then check that out. That was what I believed was gonna be the case. So well you could look at that as, well, a big failure but it’s not about the manor and the farm. When you get on the bigger headspace one – which takes a long time to do – you start to realise that’s still the case in a way because of the serious lessons that you draw from the experience. So instead of there being like this sketch version of how the manor and the farm were going to be demonstrations of fineness, they are that for the time that they were and then they’re big lessons for each and every one of us in the Collective. Because as I’ve said before I love all the people within the Collective, we stood through a lot of shit together and we’re all damaged through that in terms of our relationships because people are still stinging and I would like to see the day when we can all live the life we believe in and not resent each other. But it’s gonna take a while for the sting to go out of it…..

    THE PHAROAH’S MEN DROWNING AGAIN (bedfordshire police activities against exodus collective)

    It’s convoluted, it’s devious and it’s about to be publicly exposed.

    SQUALL investigates the latest underhand political manoeuvring, designed to halt the EXODUS and smother the public enquiry.

    SQUALL readers may remember the articles published in the last issue, charting the embattled history and victories of inspirational community warriors – the Exodus Collective. Well, almost needless to say, the plot has thickened yet further since then. We last left the story with Bedfordshire County Council’s Policy and Resources Committee giving the go ahead for a £150,000 public enquiry into a multitude of strategic police operations with possible high level political involvement, designed to put an end to Exodus’s progress.

    The enquiry was to be chaired by Michael Mansfield QC and all looked set for exposures galore. No surprise was it then, that the course of events became the subject of further political manoeuvres. Only two weeks after the council’s Policy and Resources Committee had given the go ahead for the public enquiry, the decision was reversed. The Conservative councillors on the committee had always been against a public enquiry, whereas the Labour councillors had mostly been in favour.

    When it came to the vote, the Lib-Dems made the difference and voted for the enquiry. Before implementation, however, the decision required ratification by a full council meeting. In the two weeks that elapsed before this full meeting, it was the Lib-Dems who mysteriously changed their position.

    Councillor Liz Ledster, deputising as leader of the Lib-Dems, elected to table a motion suggesting that a complaint be made to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) about the affair, instead of holding a public enquiry. As a result of this motion, the matter was referred to the council’s Police Committee for a decision on whether to file such a complaint. Council police committees are designed to liaise between the council and the local police force. They are made up of councillors from all three parties as well as local magistrates.

    Top level members of the local police force are also in attendance. The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) investigate allegations of misconduct against the police, but are made up entirely of the police themselves. The Exodus Collective had always studiously avoided any complaints to the PCA for two main reasons.

    Firstly, they did not trust the police force to conduct an enquiry into their own operations against the Collective. Secondly, Exodus knew that a complaint to the PCA would lead to an investigation dragging out for years, during which time the police would refuse to answer any questions put to them by journalists and councillors – ‘the matter being the subject of an investigation’. Despite six named police operations against them, despite the collapse of a court case after the police were found to have planted ecstasy on a member of collective, and despite the collapse of 40 other charges levelled against them, Exodus decided not to make a complaint to the PCA.

    Imagine the exasperation of the Collective when the public enquiry was taken away from under their noses and a council complaint to the PCA offered instead. Under an obscure section of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the council’s Police Committee have the power to file such a complaint to the PCA. It is a piece of legislative knowledge that Exodus say Liz Ledster is unlikely to have known about; without assistance that is.

    After being questioned by both a journalist and members of the Collective, Liz Ledster revealed that in the week prior to changing the Lib-Dem position on the enquiry, she visited the Home Office in London and had a meeting with Sir Leonard Peach, chairman of the Police Complaints Authority, at a seminar in Olympia in London. She claimed the meetings were short and insubstantial but the implications suggest otherwise.

    “Liz is actually alright as a person,” says Glenn Jenkins, a spokesperson for Exodus.

    “But they used her, they manipulated her. We think she was asked to find another way and then given help to draft this new motion – calling for a PCA enquiry and thus avoiding the public enquiry. Liz got dragged into it – she thought she was helping out.” The full public enquiry was to have investigated both the strategic and illegal police activities against the Collective, as well as the possible involvement of local politicians in helping engineer the attacks.

    This latter part of the enquiry would not of course form part of any PCA investigation and yet the possible covert involvement of local politicians could be a vital link in the discovery of what went on behind the scenes. The three local MPs are John “Banish all gypsies into the wilderness” Carlisle (Con MP-Luton North), Sir Nicholas Lyell – the Attorney General (Con MP-Bedfordshire Mid) and Graham Bright – parliamentary private secretary to the Prime Minister (Con MP – Luton South).

    It was John Carlisle who spoke out against raves during the parliamentary debates on the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, citing Exodus as a prime example of why the law needed to be tightened. He actually met members of the Collective twice, but after “having sought legal counsel”, refused to do so again, despite being their constituency MP. It also seems increasingly evident that the Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire, Michael O’ Byrne, was the man behind the strategic planning of the six specific police operations (four of them begin with the letter A – Anatomy, Anchovy, Anagram, Ashanti – and two are unknown – see ‘Riding the Blows’ SQUALL Issue 8). This is the man who walks around with a sergeant-major’s stick under his arm, having been trained in both strategic planning (Scotland Yard) and law (Kings College, London – called to the bar in 1978), before careering his way to the position of Deputy Chief Constable after only 25 years in the force. Meanwhile, a Labour councillor decided to file a separate complaint to the PCA concerning the perjury in court of an Inspector Elliot, the on-the-scene co-ordinator of several of the operations against Exodus.

    One of the very few charges leading to an actual conviction of a member of the Collective, involved a statement from Elliot claiming that Glenn Jenkins, a high profile spokesperson from Exodus, had been involved in breaches of public order, after the Collective were violently evicted from a previously disused hotel at the beginning of 1993.

    Two other prominent members of the Collective had been similarly charged in the same incident, although their charges were later dropped. Asked in court whether the police had deliberately targeted high profile members of Exodus for arrest, Elliot denied this, citing Jenkins as the only member of the Collective that he knew. However, in previous witness statements made by Inspector Elliot, concerning charges once again targeting the high profile Exodus members, he had claimed that he in fact knew several members of the Collective. As a result of these discrepancies, local councillor John Jefferson filed a perjury complaint to the PCA as an ‘offended observer’. Another councillor, Jim Thakordiin then asked the police why Jefferson’s complaint had not appeared in the council’s Police Committee documents.

    He was told by O’Byrne that: “Before deciding whether this allegation constituted a complaint, he had to decide the psychological and professional suitability of the person making the complaint”.

    “I wasn’t sure whether he was saying I was mad or thick…. or both,” says Cllr Jefferson. Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne then said that Jefferson could not make the complaint because he was not the one against whom the offence had been made. O’Byrne sent documents concerning Jefferson’s complaint to four members of the Lib-Dems, including Liz Ledster, in an apparent attempt to persuade her that the Police could handle its own investigations, so trying to stave off the Council’s original decision to hold a full public enquiry.

    “He actually leaked about 15 pages of personal correspondence in relation to the complaint, whilst the complaint was in progress,” says Cllr Jefferson. The leaking of the documents pertaining to Jefferson’s complaint was in fact a repremandable break in proper procedure, as PCA complaints are supposed to be personal between the complainant and the police.

    “So I faxed a three page letter to county hall demanding his immediate suspension from duty,” continues Jefferson. “And there I am sitting at County Hall and my mobile phone rings. I actually had to hold the phone two inches away from my ear because O’Byrne went on one saying; ‘I’m fed up with your antics’.

    He carried on being generally abusive so I just pressed the off button and left him hanging in mid-air. “My argument is that at that point he shouldn’t have rang me anyway because I had instigated complaints proceedings against him.

    As far as I could see he was trying to intimidate me.” Shortly afterwards, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Alan Dyer, met Lib-Dem councillor Liz Ledster outside a council meeting to tell her that by reading out O’Byrne’s correspondence at a council meeting, she had got him into trouble.

    As a result, Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne was required to appear before a disciplinary hearing on the matter, the result of which was a rather lame – ‘there will be a tightening of procedure’; failing to acknowledge that O’Byrne had made a deliberate and improper attempt to apply political pressure on Ledster and the Lib-Dems, in order to engineer a vote against the public enquiry. Not at all ironic is the fact that O’Byrne is in fact the officer in charge of police complaints in Bedfordshire. “O’Byrne was actually turning up to Policy and Resources and full council meetings,” says Cllr Jefferson.

    “Now, in all my time at the council, I’ve never known a senior officer to turn up to either.” Months went by with no word from the PCA’s investigation into Inspector Elliot’s perjury. In the meantime, and to no-one’s surprise, Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne began refusing to answer journalist’s questions about the affair, on the basis of “no comment – subject to enquiry”.

    Meanwhile Tim Malyon, a freelance journalist and author of several articles on Exodus, rang the PCA to discover that Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne had not filed the complaint at all. Prompted by being discovered, and with Jefferson demanding that the complaint be filed, O’Byrne then finally put the complaint through to the PCA and more months of waiting ensued. John Jefferson then wrote to O’Byrne to find out what progress, if any, the investigation was making.

    O’Byrne told Jefferson that because the alleged perjury had occurred in a Magistrates court, there were no full transcripts available and therefore it was not possible to substantiate the complaint. However, knowing full well that there would be clerk-of-court’s notes, as well as barristers and solicitors’ notes of the case, Glenn Jenkins telephoned Birnbergs, Exodus’ solicitors, and came up with a transcript within two hours. Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne could not explain why, despite being both a trained lawyer and a detective, he had not been able to do the same.

    Cambridgeshire Police Force have now been given the responsibility for investigating the complaint and have accepted Birnbergs transcript as evidence. They say that the investigation will be concluded within the next 3-4 weeks.

    This episode provided the Exodus Collective with the perfect example of why they had never wanted anything investigated by the PCA in the first place. It has been a hard slog even for such a small and easily investigated complaint.

    “The complaint was actually made on February 10th 1994,” observes Cllr Jefferson. “So it’s going to have taken over 12 months to investigate it. It took from February to September before the file was even sent!

    The significance of that is the fact that O’Byrne leaked correspondence about the complaint before it had been filed and didn’t file it until after the council’s initial decision to hold a public enquiry.” The immanent result of the investigation into Jefferson’s complaint also leads to the possibility that Glenn Jenkins’ conviction will be overturned as a result of Inspector Elliot’s perjury.

    The conviction, one of the very few police charges against Exodus not to be thrown out of court, was actually secured after two female scene-of-the-crime officers signed a statement, a staggering five months after the incident for which he was convicted, claiming that Jenkins had called them both “slags”. He has always denied this Meanwhile, the council Police Committee met in January to decide whether to refer the full investigation to the PCA.

    Glenn Jenkins made an application to speak to the Police Committee personally, an unusual request and not part of standard police committee procedure. Despite this however, a motion was passed by 13 votes to 8, allowing Jenkins to address the Committee. Imagine the scene then as the council Police Committee, with Chief Constable Alan Dyer and Deputy Chief Constable Michael O’Byrne present throughout, listening to Glenn Jenkins chart the history and the evidence of the strategic police operations levelled against them, as well as the collapse in court of 40 charges against members of the Collective. John Jefferson also stood up and recounted the whole scenario of the PCA complaint against Inspector Elliot, citing it as a perfect example of the very reason why Exodus had no faith in the PCA to hold an accountable and fully investigated enquiry.

    “There were audible gasps from the committee as they heard what had gone on,” says Cllr Jefferson. “Even Tory councillors, who were normally going :’oh it’s that fucker Jefferson again’. Suddenly they’re privately coming up to me afterwards and saying: ‘Something’s gone very wrong here.

    We don’t agree with you 100%, but something needs to be done here and there are definitely questions that need to be answered.'” With the public gallery packed with members of the Exodus Collective and much to the embarrassment of Deputy Chief Constable O’Byrne, the Police Committee decided unanimously not to refer the matter to the PCA afterall, but to send it back to the full council meeting in order that they might once again consider a full public enquiry.

    “A week before the Police Committee meeting, the local papers were trying to paint it like Exodus are trying to hammer the old bill,” says Glenn Jenkins.

    “All the newspapers done a big spread on it without even talking to us. A full page and not a word – that’s ethical journalism for you.

    “‘Exodus versus the police the battle resumes’ was the headline. But the first thing I said to the Police Committee was that I’m not anti-police, I’m anti a particular type of police and that’s what this enquiry is all about. I told them that my brother is a policeman and we all respect people that put themselves up in front of weaker people. Who can not respect that?

    But what we’re talking about is an abuse of that position.” Whilst all this has been going on, Bedfordshire County Council’s budget has been cut and it now looks possible that come March, when a Council decision on the Public Enquiry is expected, the money might not be available to fund it. The motion however, is to be put before the council in two parts.

    Part A says that the Council supports the public enquiry and part B says that they will fund it. It looks likely that the council will accept A but perhaps not B.

    “This issue is so important about the method and nature of policing,” says Glenn Jenkins.

    “We’re confident of getting the enquiry no matter what.” One thing is certain, when the enquiry goes ahead there are more than one or two officials, previously arrogant in the surety of not being caught, who will be ending up with bad egg all over their face. Not least of these will be Deputy Chief Constable Michael O’Byrne, whose meteoric rise through the ranks is already rumoured to have been brought to a full stop, one step short of Chief Constable status, by the public exposure of his tactics.


    The long fight to obtain a public enquiry into strategic operations levelled against the Exodus Collective in Luton, were detailed in the last two issues of SQUALL. Since that time Bedfordshire County Council have voted almost unanimously in favour of backing such an enquiry.

    At a council meeting conducted on April 27th and attended by around 72 councillors, only one Tory voted against the motion, with four Tory abstentions; the others voted in favour. Due to a lack of local authority funds available to finance the enquiry, Bedfordshire County Council voted in favour of an application for funding from the Home Office.

    It would of course be an irony worth celebrating if the Home Office did indeed finance an investigation into the strategic police operations and political manoeuvres, designed to halt the progress of a dance and squatting collective. However, the road to justice is dogged by devious mal-intention and the Exodus Collective are being forced to stay on their toes every step of the way.

    Following the Council’s decision to support the public enquiry council Chief Executive, Dennis Clegget, sent a letter addressed to the Right Honourable (?) Michael Howard. The letter informed him of the Council’s decision but subtly changed the Council’s request in a way that has roused the Exodus Collective once again.

    “It’s a right sly letter,” comments Glenn Jenkins, spokesperson for the Collective.

    The letter read “I am writing to you to bring your attention to a matter considered by the County Council at its meeting on the 27th April 1995, when it passed a resolution expressing it’s belief that a public enquiry should be held into the activities of the Beds Police and others, against members of the Exodus Collective and others, in order to examine claims and allegations of malpractice by the police in the investigation and prosecution of cases. The Council requested that I should pursue the need for this enquiry with you and offer to make available a venue for an enquiry. The text of the resolution, passed by the Council, is attached to this letter. [The text says that the council were in favour of Michael Mansfield QC as chair of the enquiry].

    It may be helpful if I explain the background to this matter, as the Council has not to my knowledge previously called for an enquiry into the activities of the local police force and would not likely make such a request to you. The matter has been considered by the Council on a number of occasions and in October ’94, it was resolved to refer the matter to the former Police Committee of the County Council with a request that they consider to refer it to the Police Complaints Authority. In the event, the Police Committee in January ’95 noted this request but did not take any further action. The Council’s concern essentially arises from the circumstances and outcome of a series of prosecutions against members of the Exodus Collective. A large number of cases have not resulted in any conviction and the circumstances have raised questions about the gathering of evidence and the preparation and presentation of evidence to the courts, which have not been satisfactorily answered. As background I enclose a copy of an article in the New Statesman and Society dated 21st April ’95, which was circulated at the Council meeting and also the Chief Constable’s report to the Police Committee of the 17th June ’94, which describes incidence related to the Exodus Collective.

    I should add that it was clear from the County Council meeting on 27th April 1995, that the proposal for an enquiry has broad support from all political groups on the Council and that the Council has only reached a view that an enquiry is necessary after prolonged debates on a number of different occasions. It was felt that there were a number of unanswered questions that only you could satisfactorily resolve because of your powers touching a range of agencies other than the police over which neither the PCA, nor the County Council or new Police Authority have any jurisdiction.”

    What the letter seems to be asking for is not the funding to press ahead with the enquiry, but for the Home Office to investigate the matter themselves.

    “We’re hardly gonna object to the Police Complaints Authority and then give the enquiry to the Home Office,” says Glenn Jenkins. “The Council motion said, and what they should be asking for, is that the Council agreed to an independent public enquiry chaired by Mansfield, although they didn’t have the funds to finance it. The Council’s decision was that the Home Office should be lobbied for funds, not that Michael Howard should come up with his own enquiry; a whitewash and an explanation rather than an investigation.”

    Meanwhile, the leader of the Tory group and new leader of the Police Committee, Cllr Phillip Hendry appeared on the front page of the Luton On Sunday (30/4/95) saying: “I don’t think Exodus are whiter than white and maybe our police force is not whiter than white either – these are things that need to be established.” The newspaper also reported that the Council had asked for a Home Office enquiry.

    Exodus replied to the article saying: “We have done our time in court and we were cleared of the charges – this enquiry is into police operations, not whether we are whiter than white. Furthermore the Council did not ask for a Home Office enquiry, they asked for funding for a Michael Mansfield independent enquiry.” Exodus stated that they would not accept a Home Office whitewash saying: “Any impartial look at our case would shake the conscience of any so called democrat.”

    The Luton on Sunday printed the letter (7/5/95) with an editor’s note agreeing that the motion carried by the Council was indeed that a request be made for Home Office funding, not a Home Office enquiry.

    The Chief Executive’s letter to Michael Howard concludes {ITALICS]: “I should be glad to provide any further information that you require and would be happy to attend any meeting if it would be helpful to you in reaching a decision. Similarly, if there are any points that require clarification please let me know.”

    Local Councillor, John Jefferson, has now approached Council Chief Executive Dennis Clegget, saying that if any meeting does take place with Howard, or representatives at the Home Office, Exodus want to be present, considering themselves in a better position to clarify points about the case than Clegget himself.

    “What we’ll be telling the Home Secretary, whether through Clegget or to his face, is that we wouldn’t let him touch this case with a barge pole. What we want is the funds to be released from the Home Office,” says Glenn Jenkins.

    Exodus are also approaching the Labour group on the council, in order to instigate a complaint against Clegget’s misrepresentation of the Council’s decision.

    Whilst Exodus await the outcome of the latest manoeuvres, they have started up their twice monthly raves again, with local police taking a less antagonistic stance. Exodus have informed Bedfordshire Police that they will liase with members of the local police force because they are not against community policing per se. As such their dialogue with the local police is now conducted through Chief Inspector Andy Nash. He has attended meetings with the collective at HAZ manor, promising to put in writing police support for Exodus’s plans to turn a disused warehouse in Luton into a community centre. Exodus have also secured assurance from Bedfordshire Police headquarters at Kempston that they will not pull Nash off the job. Nash’s predecessor, Chief Inspector Brown, came to be vocaly and publicly supportive of Exodus’ initiatives and was consequently transferred to an office job miles away. One of the recent Exodus dances held in May was conducted at a quarry and landfill site just a quarter of a mile from Bedfordshire Police Headquarters at Kempston. Exodus told the local Kempston newspaper that the party was a demonstration. Indeed, Exodus’s original plan was to organise three parties and then wait a while, holding it down whilst negotiations on the community centre and the public enquiry were taking place. Their decision to hold a fourth party so near to Bedfordshire Police Headquarters, was taken to demonstrate their intention not to stop their activities whilst negotiations take their time, so robbing them of momentum.

    “We’re not talking to the trees anymore,” says Glen Jenkins. “We know that negotiation can be just lip service, so we’re showing that we intend to continue doing our work for the community without permission until something concrete is established from all the talking.”

    Indeed at 6 am, as the rave was entering its final furlong, local police actually asked a nearby shopkeeper to open early so that members of the Exodus Collective could buy more water for the ravers. Meanwhile they have had some hard and constructive talks with Chief Superintendent Gary Banks, divisional commander for the area.

    “They know we know what’s been going on. They know we’re wised up to their ways,” says Jenkins. “So Chief Superintendent Banks is beginning to talk to us like we’re not stupid. And now maybe something will get done.”

    Thanks for all the info!

    For me, it is no wonder it fell apart. No one could sustain that sort of harassment without negative effects.

    I hope the individuals are not too scarred and can lead reasonably happy lives.

    Thanks again for posting.

    @1984 414356 wrote:

    I used to have their number but it never went active then one day it did but then never told you where the party was. was odd. not that I was trying to attend it mind.

    Woodside industrial estate at midnight on Saturday is all you needed to know. they didnt tell you that on the phone either. Someione else had to tell you 😉

    The convoys were amazing and the parties breathtaking.

    Ever danced at the bottom of a quary, as the summer sun came up, with 5000 other people, all sticking two fingers up to the police helicopter hovering over head? raaa

    I found this whilst rummaging through some old stuff at the weekend and thought you guys might like to take a look. It was given to me on the way into the festival in 2000. If you read it, it will tell what its all about but this was essentially their first and last (I think legal) party. It was certainly the last one i ever went to.


    If you’re having trouble reading it, save to your computer and then use windows picture viewer to zoom in 😉

    will read through it when I’ve got some time but I am familiar with some of the story. One of the main cases where underground grassroots culture especially the free party DIY scene made some noticeable community progress. Was before my time however I have a few friends who where involved/around and it seems over time the movement fucked itself over from the inside out. Would make a fascinating retrospective documentary, I know there was one at the time but quite dated now. I went to an Exodus party a few years back at the manor and it really wasn’t good – the crew involved were really sketchy as were most of the crowd and vibes were gone






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