“Lawful Excuse”

Root Force is a really interesting campaign that promotes blocking infrastructure expansion to fight the further spread of colonial capitalist systems. I get a feed from their blog into my iGoogle, where I found a link to this news tidbit a few days ago. I’ve never heard of the “lawful excuse” defense before (probably because I don’t live in Britain), but it’s amazing that it’s actually successful sometimes! Below is the blog post:

On September 11, a British jury concluded that Greenpeace activists were justified in vandalizing a coal chimney at the Kingsnorth Power Plant in October 2007, because far greater property damage will be caused if global warming is not halted. The court acquitted the activists of any criminal responsibility under the doctrine of “lawful excuse,” which says that damage may be done to another’s property in order to prevent another, greater damage.

Six Greenpeace activists had painted Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s name on the chimney, and the power company spent £35,000 to remove the paint.

The “lawful excuse” defense has previously been successfully used by Greenpeace activists who ripped up genetically modified crops and by East Timor solidarity activists who damaged military jets bound for Indonesia.

Kingsnorth Power Plant was also the site of a number large at the recent UK Climate Camp. Plans to build a new coal-powered plant at the site have drawn widespread opposition.

The Independent has a full article on the action.


September 23, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.