One of the most extraordinary criminal cases in recent times received its eleventh airing in a magistrates’ court on 2nd February, 2023.
The following day (3rd February, 2023) was the anniversary of the first appearance in court of Raja Miah, 49, an unemployed conspiracy theorist whose address is given by the court as Stamford Street, Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne. That hearing took place in Tameside Magistrates Court where he was charged with harassing a 40 year old lawyer from the Salford area.
The court granted the complainant anonymity at that hearing after Miah had entered a not guilty plea. He has provided a running commentary about the case on his social media platforms, styled ‘Recusant Nine’, since he was arrested in a dawn raid on his home by Greater Manchester Police officers in July, 2021.
The proceedings were later transferred to Manchester Magistrates’ Court, at the defendant’s request, and one case management hearing, in December 2022, actually took place in Wigan Magistrates’ Court, presumably to coincide with the diaries of the court and the respective legal teams involved in prosecuting and defending.
The proceedings yesterday concluded with District Judge Mark Hadfield telling the court that the next hearing would take place on 9th August, 2023 at yet another venue, Bolton Crown Court (pictured above), to hear applications from both prosecution and defence – and a substantive trial date would be listed during the course of that preliminary trial hearing.
The applications concern, principally, the parts of what is described as the ‘defence bundle’ are admissible, or otherwise, under Criminal Procedure Rules. A matter that has been vexing the court over its past few sessions. Unfortunately, the barrister representing Miah did not turn up at court yesterday, causing further unavoidable delays.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police has previously said that the alleged harassment offence relates to online posts directed at the female lawyer, by the defendant, between October, 2020 and November, 2021.
Raja Miah remains on conditional court bail until he surrenders to the court at Bolton on that date. Those bail conditions include restraint from contacting the person he is accused of harassing, directly or indirectly, and, further, cannot mention or make reference to her on any form of social media.
Since his arrest, Miah has provided a running commentary on proceedings to followers of his various social media platforms styled as ‘Recusant Nine’. These cultists describe themselves as ‘The Rabble’ (or ‘Raja’s Rabble’) and usually turn out in force at court hearings and, regrettably, behave as their name suggests (read more here). Which may, in part at least, account for the transferring of the case to Bolton, with its larger courtrooms and more robust security.
Strictly speaking, any pre-trial comment outside of the fact of a hearing taking place; its participants: the nature of the offence, in certain circumstances only, the reporting of orders and/or directions by the court, including bail and its conditions, if any, could be regarded as engaging either the Magistrates’ Court Act, 1980 or the Contempt of Court Act, 1981. The elements being set out here by the Crown Prosecution Service:
“A criminal contempt is conduct which goes beyond mere non-compliance with a court order and involves a serious interference with the administration of justice – Director of the Serious Fraud Office v B  A.C. 1246. The general description of the nature of criminal contempt in Robertson and Gough  HCJAC 63 is “conduct that denotes wilful defiance of, or disrespect towards the court, or that wilfully challenges or affronts the authority of the court or the supremacy of the law itself”. In short, it is behaviour which so threatens the administration of justice that it requires punishment from a public point of view.
“The main types of criminal contempt are failing to answer questions in court, physically interfering with a trial, threatening witnesses and conduct obstructing or calculated to prejudice the due administration of justice. It can arise before, during or after criminal proceedings at either the Crown Court or the magistrates’ court, or in the course of any civil proceedings”.
Most of the Recusant Nine running commentary on the case is innocuous enough and comprises, very largely, of protestations that his arrest and prosecution is ‘a persecution’ and ‘politically motivated’. A view he has also expressed to the court, from the glass-fronted dock, on at least one occasion.
But that changed, significantly, after the latest hearing when, in an impromptu Facebook ‘live transmission’ he made some extraordinary claims and threats. They were repeated, almost as a transcript, in a Facebook post the following morning. In order not to repeat the alleged contempt only the barest of details are provided here.
At the core of both, were threats to two GMP officers with whom he has had very significant dealings over the past several years. One of them led the dawn raid that resulted in the defendant’s arrest: ‘I, and the people of my town, are coming for you. There will be a reckoning’, Miah says. On the basis that they are ‘corrupt’ and have been responsible for ‘a malicious prosecution’, he adds. Pre-judging both the verdict at his trial, or any prior proceedings, and any finding that a civil court may later determine.
He further asserts that the district judge, by arranging a further hearing before the trial proper, has ‘offered the CPS a way out without being shamed in front of a packed public gallery and the press present.’ Miah asserts that ‘the trial will not proceed’ and usurps the judge’s authority, and locus, in being the sole arbiter of what is and is not admissible into these criminal proceedings.
Implicit is the threat that The Rabble pose, by their presence in the courtroom and its precincts, where journalists reporting on the case are routinely abused. Such treatment then being repeated on-line, persistently, in the form of offensive and defamatory posts.
These matters have, quite properly and very much in the public interest, been drawn to the attention of the court, the CPS and police. With a request that consideration given to a referral to the Attorney General.
Page last updated Monday 6th February, 2023 at 0915hrs
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