The Land Is Ours
office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Tue Oct 16 20:10:55 BST 2001
Aggravated Trespass charges look set to be a thing of the past now that the
Crown Prosecution Service has upheld the challenge to the decision by the
High Court in Cambridge last year, which found Rowan guilty of damaging a
GM rape crop. The judgement has been made on the basis that earlier this
year, the group were acquitted for a similar charge of aggravated trespass
by magistrates in Weymouth, Dorset.
This means that Public Order laws cannot be automatically used against
campaigners who damage or destroy genetically modified crops from now on!!!!
Tuesday, 16 October, 2001,
GM protesters win legal challenge
Anti-GM protesters have won a High Court challenge that campaigners who
damage or destroy crops cannot be prosecuted under public order laws.
Rowan Tilly was one of a group of campaigners charged with aggravated
trespass and interfering with the "lawful activity" of growing
genetically-modified (GM) crops.
The group was found guilty by a court in Cambridge in one incident but was
acquitted by magistrates in Weymouth, Dorset.
But Judge Mrs Justice Rafferty ruled that the protesters could not be
convicted in either case because there was no-one working on the land at
the time of the protest.
Anti GM-protesters say the ruling could mean charges pending against a
number of protesters will have to be reviewed.
She said she was overjoyed at the ruling: "I'm relieved because if that
ruling hadn't been the way it was, I would be looking at a prison sentence.
"Also it means there's going to be a chance for justice for people pulling
up crops in the future."
Ms Tilly, who said she had four charges pending, said it meant future
protesters would get their chance to defend their actions before a jury.
"People can have a fair trial in front of a jury and argue that they are
acting in the public interest," she said.
Ms Tilly and her lawyers say she should have been charged with criminal
But they believe the police are reluctant to go for this option because the
protesters could face trial by jury.
Ms Tilly said: "Aggravated trespass is an 'easy' charge for gaining
convictions without a jury in a magistrates court.
"The alternative charge, criminal damage, allows a defence of public
interest, and we've seen this defence used to acquit people before a jury
in Norwich Crown Court."
Mrs Justice Rafferty ruled that the public order laws cannot be used
against campaigners who damage or destroy GM crops if there is nobody who
might be intimidated by their activities present in the fields.
She said the purpose of the act was to prevent the intimidation and
disruption of people engaged in lawful activity.
"I have no hesitation in concluding presence is necessary before the
offence under this section can be made out," the judge said.
Ms Tilly was involved in a protest at Lime Farm, Great Chishill,
Cambridgeshire, in August 1999.
She was charged with aggravated trespass under the public order act after
protesters dug up plants and dumped them at the headquarters of AgrEvo at
East Wynch, Norfolk.
Ms Tilly was convicted by a district judge in June 2000 and fined £250 and
ordered to pay £250 legal costs.
She lost an appeal against the conviction last November and was ordered to
pay a further £300 in costs.
Both courts rejected Ms Tilly's contention that, as nobody was working on
the land at the time the GM crops were pulled up, there could be no offence
of aggravated trespass.
The Land Is Ours
... A Landrights Movement for All
The Land Is Ours campaigns peacefully for access to the land, its resources
and the decision making processes affecting them, for everyone -
irrespecitive of race, age, or gender.
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