Kingsnorth trial day one: the prosecution

Posted by bex — 1 September 2008 at 8:38pm - Comments

No new coal

See all trial updates or sign up to get them by email.

This morning, the Kingsnorth Six - plus a few hangers on like myself - made their way from a rural Kent retreat to Maidstone Crown Court for the start of the Kingsnorth trial.

I've spent the day watching the proceedings from the public gallery. (It's my first time in a Crown Court and I'm pleased to report that it's all true: the court really does all rise, there are curly wigs, and barristers really do look up the finer points of law in thick legal compendia.)

Actually, the whole experience is fascinating; the careful negotiations, the nuances of argument and the hints of theatricality have all left me a little agog. And having a friend's-eye view of the defendants and their motives makes it pretty poignant too.

We've had a lot of interest from supporters and a lot of people signing up for daily updates, and - although I'm restricted in what I can write for legal reasons - I can report what happened in court today:

Today was the prosecution's day. The six defendants are accused of criminal damage. Interestingly, as the prosecution explained, the "defendants accept they caused the damage. What the jury will be asked to decide is whether or not they had a lawful excuse for doing so."

Lawful excuse includes preventing damage to other property; an example, said the prosecution, would be breaking "a window to pull a trapped child from a burning car".

The defendants will claim, he said, that it was "lawful for them to damage the chimney in order to protect other property - other property, you'll hear, in Kent and all around the world, other property said to be at the risk of much more serious damage: threatened by the consequences of climate change which is caused by the substantial increase in what are generally termed as greenhouse gases, to which it is said coal fired power stations make a very large contribution."

Also interesting, the prosecution isn't seeking to dispute the reality of climate change or its impacts: "You'll find, when you return to consider the verdict, that the prosecution have not disputed what is the science behind climate change put by or on behalf of the defendants. So that's not what you'll have to decide.

"Neither is this a prosecution of free speech or legitimate protest. Such protest, be it disruptive or a nuisance, is a cherished part of the political culture in this country but, submit the prosecution, it does not include the right for the means of making a political point for the means of protest, to cause deliberate and substantial damage to property belonging to someone else."

The prosecution read out witness statements from Kingsnorth employees, to present a picture of the events at Kingsnorth of last October. Next, a site manager at Kingsnorth, Chief Superintendant of Kent Police and a Sergeant all gave evidence in person.

Tomorrow, it's the turn of the defence. If you're interested in the case, you can sign up for daily updates - and the case is being reported elsewhere online (see the Press Association and the BBC).

For now, it's back to our retreat to unwind before tomorrow's proceedings.

Sorry, commenting is turned off for legal reasons.

Follow Greenpeace UK