Jubilant victory

The Land Is Ours office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Tue Oct 16 20:10:55 BST 2001

Jubilant victory

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,
BBC News

GM protesters win legal challenge
Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1602000/1602313.stm

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.

'Fair trial'

"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.

Postal address :
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