Now starting day 3 of the trial of the 11 defendants, accused of aggravated trespass at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. Prosecution and defence case having been heard, today was about final statements and the summaries of evidence given over the last couple of days. A number of defendants were defending themselves and hence conducted the closing statements themselves.
First defendant to speak SB. She is convinced that many death and serious injury are directly resulting from climate change. Believes that there can be little doubt about it. Thus an obvious case has been made out to use the defence of necessity. Therefore, it is reasonable in such circumstances to take responsibility and to do all we can to minimise CO2 emissions.
Next EF reiterated her belief that these events where not simply a protest but a direct action, to stop CO2 emissions for a long as they could. All defendants have said this under oath.
According to calculations made equating quantities of CO2 emissions, to the resultant deaths, she believes that the action of shutting down the burning of coal for the duration of the occupation had directly saved 10 lives. We would have remained as long as we possible could, and that this was obvious to E-On staff. Matters were bought to a close by police action, and the cutting of locks, not by voluntarily giving up the occupation.
She concluded by reiterating that it was the defendants intention that was important here. The fact that we could not remain as long as we liked is not relevant. It is the authorities action that drew matters to a close, not ours.
The crown had been seeking to suggest that by the action finishing as it did, earlier than intended and without people being more vociferous in their resistance, made their defence of necessity harder to sustain.
Another defendant AW pointed out that no one action can stop climate change. However the cumulative efforts of many people might do so. This opinion was supported by Dr Lewis in his evidence yesterday. He then reminded the court that Mr Smith, the Ratcliffe station manager, had been unable to produce figures that the defence had asked for on the operations of the station during that time. Remember he had simply said: “he hadn’t had the time to produce them”. We should thus look on the claim that the Ironbridge plant that had been fired up to compensate for the lack of generation from Ratcliffe during the period, and had produced greater emissions than Ratcliffe, with some suspicion. It is perhaps true that Ironbridge had not in fact produced more CO2 emissions than Ratcliffe during this time.
Dr Lewis had said that it was reasonable to take actions that reduce CO2 emissions. Further, unless immediate action was taken, then it is obvious that death and serious injury would result. He had said that the time for action was now. In fact more action should have been taken already. There is now only a 50 – 50 chance of meeting the 2 degC target that had previously been referred to without very significant efforts.
He reminded the court of the earlier analogy that had been cited, to describe the belief of necessity the defendants are relying on: If Anne Frank had stolen a car to escape from the Nazi’s, then would she really have committed an crime and be guilty of an offence? Or should she have waited for a knock on the door?
Many other have tried to shut down coal-fired power station all over the world. There have been at least 14 other attempts. In 2006, over 600 people had also tried to occupy and shut down the Drax power station, situated near Selby in North Yorkshire. This was in fact, the UK’s leading CO2 emitter. Those people were not of a violent nature, and neither are we. He again reminded the court of the sentiment express by Al Gore: That he could not understand why many more people are not trying to shut down all coal-fired power stations.
Next to give his closing statement was TA. He said that he did reasonably believe that CO2 emissions did pose a threat to life. The sole purpose of his actions that day were to do all within our power to stop emission for as long as possible. That we were not simply protesting about the issue, and our actions were reasonable and proportionate in all the circumstances. We engaged in the biggest action that we could have taken there. I do feel the immediacy of peril. It is also a long term threat and feel that our immediate families and friends are at a significant risk.
The action wasn’t pre-planed as an advanced, highly organised military operation. We simply bought a few chains and locks and went and did it.
Mr Cunningham for the crown put it to him, that you’re just a specialist interest group, aren’t you? We should rely on our democratic structures to deal with these matters and concerns.
TA replied that we are simply a group of individuals with concerns.
The rest of the defendants reiterated most of the points that had already been covered here, with Mr Cunningham continuing to seek to put to each that by any measures, they are all simply protesters and not taking the rescue actions they claim that would be required to make out for the defence of necessity that they were seeking so to do. All had denied this.
One of the eleven defendants had not given any evidence in the trial. Further he had not made a closing speech. In fact he had said nothing throughout the hearing. It transpired that on his arrest he had not made a statement or answered any questions. Further, that in the preparations of the case, the police had not correlated their statements that described what he had done, were he had been, and who arrested him!
District Judge Morris Copper said the charge had not specified what he did within the trespass. No evidence of location, further that there is no evidence of being in a building. He said that the crown might say that an inference can be drawn from the surrounding circumstances that he was involved in and being part of a common enterprise. However, I can’t see his specific links to this action. It is however proper for me to draw adverse inferences from his actions. He did enter land as a trespasser and that there was evidence to suggest he was involved in the joint enterprise.
However, in my opinion, the prosecution has not proved matters to my satisfaction. The case having not been proved against him, I thus dismiss the charges against him.
There was much congratulation from all the other defendants and supporters, and he then danced a small jig around the court. Mr Cunningham smiled 🙂
DJ Cooper returned to court saying that he needed a few days to write his considered judgement on the rest. He would only need a few days to do this, but because of the court calender he could not do it until Monday 25 February at 10.00am when he would deliver his written judgement. All were bailed to return.
Before rising, he said that he wished to compliment all the defendents on on the way they had handled themselves and on the presentation of their case.
This author also wishes to associate myself with the Judges comments.
Bloody well done each!
I wish all well and that the right verdict does get finally get returned.