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Convictions For Activists - Climate Criminals Walk Free

Notts Indymedia Features | 28.02.2008 15:19 | Climate Chaos | Repression

On the 10th April 2007, 11 people walked into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station and locked on to the coal conveyor and assorted plant there. Their objective was to take direct action to halt operations and thus to diminish the CO2 emissions of the E-on plant, the greenhouse gas thought to be largely responsible for climate change. They were all charged with aggravated trespass and throughout the court case (which lasted for 3 days), the defendants argued that yes, they did take these actions, but employed the defence of "duress of circumstances" or necessity, and pleaded not guilty.

On Monday 25th Feb, 10 defendants (one having had the charges dismissed due to lack of evidence) returned to court to receive the judgement. Judge Cooper had earlier said that he wished to compliment all the defendants on the way they had handled themselves and on the presentation of their case. However all were found guilty.

Audio: Featured in #2 'the March Show' on Riseup Radio

Features: Clean Coal On Trial | Climate Activists Bring Powerstation Operations To A Halt

On The Newswire: Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Judgement | Power station 10 found guilty | Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Verdict | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 1] | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 2] | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 3]

Links: Eastside Climate Action

At the beginning of the case, there was legal argument on if the court would hear this defence. It did and the case was proceeded with in making such argument. It is thought to be the first case dealing with environmental matters, that this defence had been employed.

On Monday 25th Feb, 10 defendants [one having had the charges dismissed due to lack of evidence] returned to court to receive the judgement. He had earlier said that he wished to compliment all the defendants on the way they had handled themselves and on the presentation of their case. However all were found guilty.

The District Judge Morris Cooper said that he had rejected the defence of necessity, this being so, and the defendant had all admitted their action they were thus guilty of these offences.

There had been extensive evidence presented to court by an expert witness Dr Simon Lewis. The court had accepted this without contention. In the written judgement DJ Cooper points out that ...

"The law relating to this subject is far from clear as to scope of such a defence. I am not aware of any legal authority that addresses the question of whether a global threat brought about or contributed to by global human activity is within the scope of such a defence. This case, there fore, goes into uncharted legal territory".

Dr. Simon L. Lewis is a Royal Society Research Fellow, at the Earth and Biosphere Institute, University of Leeds and has written a recent article for the Guardians Comment is Free, it's time for a body count, in which he wrote "In the trial, for which I was an expert witness, crucial questions were how many people does climate change kill, and what proportion is the UK responsible for?".

Also, I was struck by a quote from one of the authorities relied on in making the decision. London Borough of Southwark V. Williams [1971].

"Well one thing emerges with clarity from the decisions, and that is that the law regards with the deepest suspicion any remedies of self-help, and permits those remedies to be resorted to only in very special circumstances. The reason for such circumspection is clear, necessity can easily become simply a mask for anarchy".

So, there you have it!

They were fined varying amounts between £100 - £250. Additionally, the prosecution asked for £100 costs each and the victim surcharge of £15. The total bill coming to £2670. All were given time to pay.

Notts Indymedia Features


Hide the following 6 comments


29.02.2008 20:40

what happens if they don't/can't pay?

pueblo unido
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02.03.2008 11:27

usually if you refuse to pay a court fine you go to prison, also I think I am right in stating that bailiffs acting on behalf of courts trying to get payment in respect of fines have higher powers than your standard bailiff, and can enter your home without permission, i.e. break in.

fly posters

Bailiffs and going back to court.

02.03.2008 14:10

Bailiffs can now break into your home to seize goods for fines relating to criminal proceedings in a magistrates court (but not for parking fines, council tax etc). This seems to be more of a bluff than something that is likely to happen. They are more likely to go after your car if you have one but they have to get a 'clamping order' first. I do not think that you have to be informed about this but I am not sure about the exact legal position.
If you can avoid the bailiffs then you will be summoned back to court. Sometimes people have been imprisoned while others have had their fines dropped - occasionally after being told to stay in court until the end of the day. It does not seem to be very consistent.
They are trying to extend the power of bailiffs to break into your house for unpaid fines such as credit cards. As far as I am aware this has not gone through.



02.03.2008 15:50

"The reason for such circumspection is clear, necessity can easily become simply a mask for anarchy".

Arnachy = a non hierarchical co-operative system

ahhhhhh! I geddit, now!

we are not capable of managing our own lives! thank God and St. George for the Judges wisdumb!

conor cruise missile o'broen

Now it's time for the civil damages case.

03.03.2008 12:43

As all are convicted all are liable for any loss inccured as a result of their actions - that could make their eyes water a bit.

Fine watch

Essential to know about bailiffs

03.03.2008 15:08

It is essential for all activists who risk conviction and being fined to know what the powers of bailiffs are. Here's an outline:
Their powers are in fact fairly limited. Under a law of 1649 (!) they are not permitted to break into premises, they must always make "peaceable entry". They can get in through open doors and windows, or ones which aren't locked, as long as there is nobody barring their way; if they touch you, that's assault. If you know that there are bailiffs after you, it is recommended that you keep all your doors and windows locked at all times. And make sure that everybody who lives with you does the same.
The only legal exception to this so far is that magistrates court bailiffs (note: not private or county court bailiffs) have the power to break into the home of some-one who has refused, or failed, to pay a court fine. But as far as we know this power has never yet been used. It is likely to be used only very sparingly because of the possible consequences to the bailiffs (being assaulted by irate fine defaulters, or if somebody not responsible for the fine lives at the same address, being accused of assault on innocent parties.) Also, from a practical point of view, the bailiffs have to know that the person who owes the fine actually has goods worth taking that would fetch a big enough price at auction to cover the fine plus the bailiff's costs. (Bear in mind that goods sold at auction tend to raise only a small fraction of their face value.)They can't break in just to check this out.
They can only take goods that belong to the fine defaulter. So it's better if they can find him/her at home so they can ask what belongs to him and what to other people in the household.
Even if they do find the fine defaulter at home, sh/e is under no obligation at all to let them in. It is perfectly legal to shout at them to "go away" (or words to that effect) through the letter box.
One ploy that was used during the anti-poll tax campaign was that people who refused to pay, and had bailiffs after them as a result, would sell all their surplus possessions to some-one else and keep the receipts to prove that they no longer owned them.
It is legal to hide your surplus possessions from bailiffs somewhere outside your home, like a friend's or relative's house.(*) But don't hide anything in the garden shed, as bailiffs are allowed to break into outbuildings. (*For some reason, this is not legal if you owe rent. It is legal for all other debts.)
Bailiffs can't take goods being bought on HP (these still belong to the shop/company). That includes cars being bought on HP.
If you own your car they can take it away, without giving notice. But as far as we know they haven't got the means to check out the reg number against the owner of the car. So if you park your car in another street, or in a friend's drive or garage, they are not going to be able to trace it.
**BAILIFFS CANNOT TAKE ESSENTIAL POSSESSIONS. That means they can't take your pots and pans, crockery, cutlery, clothes, essential furniture (that includes your three piece suite, no matter how much it cost you or how new it is! ), bedding, towels, fridge, freezer or washing machine. And they can't take the tools of your trade.
They can take your telly, DVD player, music centre, similar non-essential electrical goods, computer (unless it's a tool of your trade - you'd have to prove you were a journalist or a lecturer or IT person or some such), computer games, bicycles, cars, motorbikes, antiques, paintings, jewellry, "surplus" furniture.

Bailiffs will often deliver letters which aim to intimidate the debtor by saying they can do things they don't have the power to do. Letters entitled "house clearance" are commonplace. So are letters that say they will turn up with a van and charge you £200, or whatever, for it. There is a limit on what bailiffs can charge for first and subsequent visits, (currently £21.50, then £16.50) and they are not going to spend money on a van unless they already know you have stuff worth taking and they have already established the right to break in and take it.
Magistrates court bailiffs apart, bailiffs only have the right to break in if they have already gained "peaceable entry", checked out that you have anything worth taking, and got you to sign a walking possession order. That means you're signing to confirm the goods are yours, and the bailiffs have the right to come back and take them if you don't pay up. They usually give you some time to pay before they come back again.
Of course, if the value of your surplus possessions is "naff all", they won't bother coming back again. It was known for a few people, during the anti-poll tax campaign, to invite bailiffs into their homes to demonstrate that there was in fact nothing of any value, so that the bailiffs would leave them alone. This can work for civil debts. The problem with court fines, and council tax debts, is that the people you owe money to can apply for an arrest warrant if you haven't paid and don't have anything for the bailiffs.

So, there's your brief anti-bailiff guide! Circulate it as widely as possible.

Andy Citizen
- Homepage: http://www.rightsand