Home | Friday 12th September 2008 | Issue 646
ALL THE PRECEDENT'S MEN
In a massive victory for climate campaigners and other protest groups across the UK, six protesters arrested at Kingsnorth coal power station in October 2007 (see SchNEWS 627) were all found not guilty of charges of criminal damage. They successfully argued that any damage the group caused through scaling the massive chimney and painting “Gordon” down it's side was absolutely nothing compared to the destruction which will be done to the environment by the planned new coal plant on the site.
Whilst the government has paid only lip service to the urgent need to cut CO2 emissions, they have given the green light for the new power station which will emit as much carbon dioxide in a year as the 30 least polluting countries. Yep, fairly obvious but logic like that has never previously worked in UK courts... until last May when something similar did happen after two anti-war protesters accused of damaging a B-52 plane were acquitted after showing that they just were acting to prevent war crimes (see SchNEWS 589). All hail the precedent!
In what we hope is a new trend, with juries showing they can flex their powers for common sense, the court agreed with the Kingsnorthers and, for the first time ever, climate change was used as a successful legal defence.
The victory was no doubt helped by the clout that Greenpeace wields, with star witnesses including NASA scientist and Al Gore advisor Jim Hansen, and celebrity climate campaigner (and prospective Tory MP - what's all that about, eh?!) Zac Goldsmith giving evidence. They were also able to call Aqqaluk Lynge, an Inuit with first-hand experience of the destruction climate change can cause.
However achieved, this verdict gives a huge boost to direct action groups facing increasingly draconian police attempts to crush protests, and will perhaps open the floodgates (well, it's a good metaphor for climate change, inuit!) for waves of new direct action protest.
To join the campaign against Kingsnorth visit www.nonewcoal.org.uk