Yesterday at Maidstone Crown Court a jury returned what can only be described as one of the most perverse verdicts in recent legal history. They cleared six Greenpeace activists of causing £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station in a direct action protest.
The jury accepted the defence argument that the six activists had a lawful excuse to cause the damage. Under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 a person may lawfully cause criminal damage to prevent bigger damage from happening i.e. one could lawfully kick in the door of a burning house in order to tackle the fire.
This verdict raises massive problems; it seriously raises the possibility of massive amounts of damage that would otherwise be criminal during future direct action protests and for more people to get away with it.
Yes, climate change is a big problem and we should be tackling it. However, t should not be used as an excuse to get away with causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to private property. This verdict really is perverse and shows just how wrong juries can get it (not that I’m in any way advocating the abolition of juries).