The Greenpeace Kingsnorth Six – A Lawful Excuse?


Kingsnorth Six activist Ben Stewart, after their acquittal:

This verdict we think marks a tipping point for the climate change movement. When twelve normal people say that it is legitimate for a direct action group to shut down a coal-fired power station because of the harm that it does to the planet, then one has to ask where exactly that leaves government energy policy.

From “Not guilty: the Greenpeace activists who used climate change as a legal defence,” in the Guardian:

The activists admitted trying to shut down the station by occupying the smokestack and painting the word “Gordon” down the chimney, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world. It was the first case in which preventing property damage caused by climate change had been used as part of a “lawful excuse” defence in court.

From “Cleared: Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law,” in The Independent:

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. Last December he wrote to Mr Brown with a similar appeal (pdf). At the trial, he called for an moratorium on all coal-fired power stations, and his hour-long testimony about the gravity of the climate danger, which painted a bleak picture, was listened to intently by the jury of nine women and three men (pdf).

Also: audio commentary by John Vidal, of the Guardian, and the website for A Time Comes.