A jury in the UK decided that campaigners were justified in breaking the law because global warming is such a big threat. I can see the lawyers and the police rolling their eyes with such a precedent setting decision.
The Independent reports:
The defence of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.
The not-guilty verdict, delivered after two days and greeted with cheers in the courtroom, raises the stakes for the most pressing issue on Britain’s green agenda and could encourage further direct action.
Kingsnorth was the centre for mass protests by climate camp activists last month. Last year, three protesters managed to paint Gordon Brown’s name on the plant’s chimney. Their handi-work cost £35,000 to remove.
The campaigners had a prominent ally who turned up to testify on their behalf:
During the eight-day trial, the world’s leading climate scientist, Professor James Hansen of Nasa, who had flown from American to give evidence, appealed to the Prime Minister personally to “take a leadership role” in cancelling the plan and scrapping the idea of a coal-fired future for Britain.
Professor Hansen, who first alerted the world to the global warming threat in June 1988 with testimony to a US senate committee in Washington, and who last year said the earth was in “imminent peril” from the warming atmosphere, asserted that emissions of CO2 from Kings-north would damage property through the effects of the climate change they would help to cause.
The acquittal was the second time in a decade that the “lawful excuse” defence has been successfully used by Greenpeace activists. In 1999, 28 Greenpeace campaigners led Lord Melchett, who was director at the time, were cleared of criminal damage after trashing an experimental field of GM crops in Norfolk. In each case the damage was not disputed – the point at issue was the motive.
A conservative parliamentary candidate also testified on their behalf. If Greenpeace can get prominent scientists and politicians to turn up to their trial, I wonder who the Ploughshares folk could get to testify on their behalf? 😉