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A look at the Bayer injunction

a | 12.02.2004 16:56 | Analysis | Bio-technology | Repression | Social Struggles | Cambridge | London | Oxford

Take a look at the terms of the interim court order given to Bayer (if you dare)...

Okay, first off, while the injunction is a civil matter, breaching the court order is a criminal offence. In other words, you do something (like give a leaflet to a customer heading into a protected premisis) and you are guilty of contempt of court (and frankly the whole thing IS seriously worthy of contempt!)...

"If you do not obey this Order you will be guilty of contempt of Court and you may be fined or sent to prison or may be guilty of a criminal offence for which you may be fined or sent to prison or both."

Secondly, this does NOT just apply to those named on the injunction...

"4. In this order Protestor or Protestors shall mean:
(a) the Defendants whether by themselves their servants or agents or otherwise
(b) _any other person_ who is acting in concert with any of the named Defendants to
do any act prohibited by this Order and who has notice of the terms of this Order whether by himself his servants or agents or otherwise; and
(c) _any other person_ who has been given notice in writing of the terms of this Order whether by himself his servants or agents or otherwise."

Obviously this means the order can be applied to anyone (they just have to be handed a copy of the injunction). It seems likely, accourding to part(c), that if you were to read the court order here, you could also be deemed to have been given notice of the terms of the order and therefore be considered a Protester restrained by the injunction.

So what does the injunction actually say...

"IT IS ORDERED until 11 February 2004 or further Order that:- 1. The Protestors be restrained from pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of the Protected Persons, as defined above contrary to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997."

Well that seems fair enough, protesting isn't about stalking and harassing people is it? Well, lets look at what Bayer's lawyers actually mean, what acts they wish to stop...

"2. AND in particular the Protestors be restrained, under the terms of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, from:-
(1) Assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening, pestering or otherwise interfering with the Protected Persons (as defined above) by doing acts which cause harassment, intimidation or harm whether directly or indirectly to the Protected Persons by any means whatsoever including:-
(a) photographing the protected persons or their vehicles which activities are prohibited in their entirety;
(b) using any instruments whatsoever which may or may not be designed for the making of artificial or musical noise, or use anything to amplify sound."

Okay, much of the early bit seems fine - assault is a criminal activity and unsocial activity that most people hate (even if they see no contridiction in support state violence in their name). But what about photographing? I'm a freelance journalist working mostly on social justice and environmental issues, I am aware of the terms of the injunction and therefore I would breach the injuntion if I took a photo that contained a photo of a protected person (or even their vehicle). Bare in mind that the protected persons can also include customers, or even the postman delivering mail to a protect premisis. The issue of taking pictures relates to the fact that the Protection from Harassment Act came about as a law designed to protect women from stalkers.

Lets continue, it gets worse...

"(2) making any direct, abusive or threatening communication whether in writing, by facsimile or otherwise or orally whether by telephone or electronic transfers (e-mail) or otherwise howsoever to the Protected Persons (as defined above),"

What does the word 'direct' in there mean? Basically this seems to suggest that it becomes an offence to write to the company to say that you will boycott their products as a result of their plans to pollute the environment and the entire food chain with GMOs.

But surely this contravenes the human rights act, the bit about have a right to hold and express views and impart information etc. Well, having battled it out in court with the SHAC injunctions, the lawyers found a way around this...

"save that the Protestors may communicate through their solicitors and may communicate with the First to Tenth Claimants by addressing ordinary correspondence to the Company Secretary of the First Claimant’s at Bayer House, Strawberry Hill, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1JA or by using the following designated telephone number namely ‘01635 563 771', the following designated facsimile number namely ‘01635 563 772' and the following designated e-mail address namely ‘’."

So that's okay. Protesters send stuff straight to the bayers big protest letter bin. Make sure you don't accidently send an email to the wrong address, you could get upto five years in prison for one false click!

And if you do write to one of the 'allowed' addresses, what can you actually write. How about something like 'please bayer, don't grow GM crops'. Nope, can't do that either...

"(9) Inciting, compelling or otherwise seeking to persuade any Protected Person against their will from:-
(a) doing something that he is entitled or required to do; or
(b) doing something that he is not under any obligation to do"

Erm.. better not write then, lets forget all this trying to save the world shit and go for a walk. Ooops, another way to get banged up...

"(3) approaching within the exclusion zones surrounding the following properties which are respectively identified and coloured pink, blue and yellow on the plans attached to this order:-
(a) 30 Abberbury Road, Iffley, Oxford, OX4 4ES
(b) 15 Coppice Avenue, Great Shelford, Cambridge CBZ 5AQ
(c) 9 Boleyn’s Close, Queens Park, Billericay, Essex CM12 0YZ
(d) 5 Chesterford House, Southacre Drive, Cambridge, CB2 2TZ"

So it appears that some Indymedia Oxford people, having become aware of the injunction online, could commit an offence by taking a short cut to the chip shop on Iffley Road. Likewise, Cambridge Indy people cycling to a meeting might also find themselves straying into criminality.

It's not so bad with the unspecified employees houses. Although loitering could be simply walking too slow for some crumpy copper, you do have to know that you are actually in proximity to such a house (althougth I am not sure how you would prove that you didn't)...

"(4) knowingly picketing, demonstrating and loitering within 100 yards of the houses of any of the Protected Persons (being exclusion zones)."

And then there are the offices etc. of the company...

"(5) (subject to sub-paragraph 6 below) coming, remaining trespassing or conducting any demonstrations or protesting or other activities within the following areas of land identified on the plans annexed hereto and coloured pink, blue and yellow, being exclusion zones and being land situated in the immediate vicinity of:-
(a) Bayer Public Limited Company Bayer House and West Point and West Street House and Strawberry Hill House, Strawberry Hill, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1JA
(b) Bayer Public Limited Company Healthcare Product Development Hunton House, Unit 1 Highbridge Industrial Estate Oxford Road, Uxbridge, UB8 1HU
(c) Bayer Public Limited Company MERA Diagnostics Division, St Andrews Works Colchester Road, Halstead Essex C09 2DX
(d) Bayer CropScience Limited Gorsey Lane, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 0RN;
(e) Bayer CropScience Limited 1 Cambridge Road, Hauxton, Cambridge CB2 5HU
(f) Bayer CropScience Limited International Application Technology Group Cliffe Road, North Newbald, York YO43 4TY
(g) Bayer CropScience Limited Sweetbriar Road, Norwich NR6 5AP
(h) Bayer Diagnostics Manufacturing Limited Western Avenue, Bridgend Industrial Estate, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, CF31 3TY
(i) Bayer Diagnostics Manufacturing (Sudbury) Limited Chilton Industrial Estate, Northern Road Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2XQ
(j) Bayer Diagnostics Manufacturing (Sudbury) Limited Chilton Industrial Estate, Windham Road Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 3XD
(k) Bayer Diagnostics Manufacturing (Sudbury) Limited Chilton Industrial Estate, Byford Road, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2YG
(l) Bayer Diagnostics Manufacturing (Sudbury) Limited Units 13 & 15/17 Fourth Avenue Bluebridge Industrial Estate Halstead, Essex CO9 2SY
(m) W. Hawley & Son Limited Lichfield Road, Branston Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 3WH
(n) pbi Home & Garden Limited Durkan House, 214-224 High Street, Waltham Cross, Herts, EN8 7DU
(o) H. C. Starck Limited 1 Harris Road, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 9PT
(p) H. C. Starck Limited, Unit 19 Horndon Business Park West Horndon, Brentwood, Essex CM13 3XD
(q) H. C. Starck GmbH UK Liaison Office, Aizlewood’s Mill Nursery Street, Sheffield, S3 8GG
(r) Dystar UK Limited Unit 2, Pennine Business Park Bradley Road, Huddersfield HD2 1RA"

I'm sure that some people would appreciate such a comprehensive list of companies assocaited with Bayer, do doubt it's will have saved a lot of research to have them all nicely laid out in the injuntion. But since it would be criminal to go there I guess demo's are out of the question...

"(6) conducting any demonstrations or protesting or other activities within the exclusion zones referred to in sub-paragraphs 5 (a) to (r) above save that the demonstrations may be conducted once every 7 days at each of the aforesaid premises on the following terms namely:-
(a) that the number of Protestors present at such demonstrations shall not exceed 12 individuals;
(b) that the maximum duration for such protest/demonstration shall not exceed 6 hours;
(c) demonstrations may only occur in the designated areas marked on the plans attached hereto;
(d) the Protestors may breach the exclusion zones for the sole . purpose of gaining access to the said designated areas .
PROVIDED that the protestors fully comply with the terms of this sub-paragraph;
(e) the Protestors shall not drive or park any vehicles within half mile of the Claimants’ premises referred to above;
(f) it is a condition precedent to the terms of this sub-paragraph that not less than 24 hours before the proposed demonstration, the Protestors shall have first notified the police station responsible for policing each exclusion zone in accordance with the list of police stations attached to this Order;"

Cool, so once more, the lawyers have built in a way to avoid the court order from being seen as having prevented people from excersing their 'rights'. (Note that nowhere on the Bayer website is this list of police stations actually provided).

"(7) Publishing names, addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers electronic-mail addresses, car or other vehicle registration numbers or any other material designed to make known to any Protestor or other person the Protected Persons who are defined above."

Hang on, seeing as the company itself is defined as one of the protected 'persons' does that mean that I've breached the injunction by publishing the addresses above? And since the injuncted organisations are ordered to place a copy of the court order in full on their websites, does that mean it's okay for them to do it?

And what does this mean for Indymedia, for example. What would it mean if this article had breached the injunction...

"(8) Publishing and delivering by website, e-mail or in any form whatsoever any material, whether defamatory or otherwise, identifying the Protected persons or concerning or describing any activities perpetrated by any Protestors against any of the Protected persons."

Hold on! That means that there are loads of articles on Indymedia that have already breached the court order! What does that mean? Will Indymedia be fined? What about Schnews, what about the Guardian?

Clearly this injunction has serious implications for protesters and freespeech - and not just those concerned about Bayers involvement in GM. This injunctions are becoming more common and must be challenged. What we are seeing is lawyers bypassing democratic processes to effectively criminalise a whole range of previously lawful activities. This must be stopped!



Display the following 2 comments

  1. Injunctions — bozavine
  2. Virtual Protest Under Attack — Carl Cunningham