Pink Castle GM court case update

tliouk office at
Thu Nov 6 14:22:55 GMT 2003

Pink Castle GM court case update

4 people arrested for locking on to tractors planting Bayer 
CropScience GM maize in Dorset (next to the Pink Castle) have their 
aquital over turned in the high court and now face retrial


Western Morning News 11:00 - 05 November 2003

Two of the UK's top judges have ruled that Totnes GM protester Liz 
Snook should be found guilty of civil disobedience in a High Court 

The High Court overturned a not guilty decision by a district judge 
over her right to protest again GM maize trials by chaining herself 
to a tractor. Lord Justice Brooke and Mr Justice Silber yesterday 
ruled that the lower court was wrong, with a direction that she 
should be convicted. The court allowed the challenge by the Director 
of Public Prosecutions to the decision by Dorset magistrates who had 
cleared Snook and three others of trespass in March. The district 
judge at Sherborne Magistrates Court cleared 26-year-old Snook and 
the others of causing a nuisance. The lower court ruled that she had 
not acted unreasonably. 

Lord Justice Brooke, rejected the protesters' defence that they were 
defending property. "It is clear that the respondents knew quite well 
that there was nothing unlawful about the drilling of GM maize seed 
on the land, even if the seed might blow about or be transferred by 
one means or another to neighbouring land. " 

Lord Justice Brooke said the judge who cleared the protesters should 
have accepted their defence was not allowable. 

"The case must therefore be remitted to him with a direction to 
convict, since no defence of lawful excuse is available to the 

Snook, who has previous protest convictions, claimed at the 
magistrates court she considered GM crops a "serious threat" to the 
eco-system and that her protest had been "as a last resort." 

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, argued that there 
was "no acceptable defence to the charges." 

Western Morning News 
10:27 - 05 November 2003

Four gm crop protesters, including two from the Westcountry, have 
been ordered by the High Court to be convicted of criminal offences 
after shackling themselves to tractors during a demonstration. 

In a successful appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions won 
orders overturning a district judge's decision to accept the 
protesters' defence that they were protecting the environment. 

In a ruling which will come as a blow to the anti-GM movement, Lord 
Justice Brooke and Mr Justice Silber ruled: "In our judgment, the 
district judge ought to have directed himself as a matter of law that 
the defence of private defence or protective force was not available 
to the respondents". The four were protesting against an experimental 
trial involving genetically modified maize on farmland in Dorset. 
Elizabeth Snook, of Totnes; Olaf Bayer, of Oxford; Richard Whistance, 
from Catcott, Somerset; and William Hart, from Matlock, Derbyshire, 
were acquitted of aggravated trespass by Judge Roger House, sitting 
at Sherborne Magistrates' Court in March this year. 

The four were prosecuted for leading a protest against a trial of 
pesticide resistant GM-maize known as strain T-25 being planted at 
the Horselynch Plantation at Littlemore, near Weymouth, Dorset, on 
May 16 last year. As well as building a large wooden pink castle by 
the site entrance, the four disrupted the start of the trial by 
strapping and locking themselves to tractors which were preparing to 
sew the GM seeds. At one point during the magistrates' court hearing, 
Snook, who had been convicted of similar acts of protest in the past, 
broke down in tears. 

She said: "All I wanted to do was to stop the planting of that field. 
We did what we did as a last resort." 

After two days of evidence, the district judge said the four had 
acted in a "reasonable" way, adding: "I can see you all have huge 
knowledge of GM crops and I can see you were acting to protect the 
land and animals." 

But yesterday Lord Justice Brooke and Mr Justice Silber said the 
district judge had erred in law. 


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