The Weekly Round-up: Monday 12th July
There’s a lot of news to update you with in this weekly round-up – most of it split between legal news and forthcoming events. So without further a-do, let’s go…
The first – and perhaps biggest – news-story of the past seven days has been the Coalition’s scrapping of the contentious Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. As of now the police will not be able to stop and search individuals under Section 44, however the law wills till apply for vehicle searches.
The change in authorisation for applying S44 comes after a ruling earlier this year at the European Court of Human Rights which found that the UK’s application of S44 violated the right to respect for private life contained in article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.
While this is broadly great news for activists, Kevin Blowe urges continued vigilence by raising the spectre of the ever resourceful cops failing to adhere to the new guidelines or falling back on the still active Section 43:
“Let’s see whether the government’s “interim measures” are adhered to. Equally, we need to see whether the police officers simply rely instead on section 43 powers to stop and search people- it was this part of the Terrorism Act that was used against Mattsson in a another incident just two days ago.”
More good news for climate justice activists came from Merthyr Crown Court last Friday as the drivers and legal observers on the action had their charges dropped while those that locked on and prvoded other direct support pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Crucially, Section 35 of the infamous Malicious Damages Act 1861 (the section carrying maximum life sentences) was dropped against all 18 activists which acknowledges that this wasn’t intended as a malicious action as originally alleged.
As a result it’s unlikely prison sentences will be handed down with restraining orders and compensation being considered. The remaining 13 activists facing charges will return to Merthyr Crown Court on August 13th and supporters are being urged to turn out to show their support.
And another victory was announced in Manchester last week when climate activists that locked on to machinery at a peat bog extraction site at Chat Moss, Salford were acquitted by Salford magistrates court.
The activists, Iain Hilton from Manchester Climate Action and Sonny Khan from Earth First! North West had been accused under Section 4a of the Public Order Act (1986) for allegedly causing “harassment, alarm or distress” against the employees of two companies, Joseph Metcalfe Horticultural Ltd, and AW Jenkinson Forest Products Ltd, during the protest that took place on 15th April.
After hearing evidence from prosecution witnesses, the magistrate told the court that:
“while the protest was “certainly an irritation and certainly cost [the companies] money” he had seen no evidence that the defendants intended to, or did cause harrasment, alarm or distress as the prosecution had alleged and found them not guilty without waiting to hear evidence from the defence solicitors.”
A request for a restraining order banning the two defendants from the peat bog site at Chat Moss was also rejected.
Peat extraction leads to 3m tonnes of CO2 emissions each year in the UK alone, among other disastrous consequences.
If any of these actions have inspired you to find out more about climate issues, the corporations behind the destruction of the planet or you want to take a stand yourself then here are a few events coming up over the next few weeks:
Break the banks warm-up – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141042685907892&ref=mf
Climate Camp has organised a teach-in about RBS and it’s part in climate change. The event, which takes place in Leeds on Saturday 17th July from 10am to 6pm, will cover:
- all you need to know about the damaging projects and criminal corporations that provides regular finance for Tar Sands extraction
- how finance works and how we can use it as a leverage point to stem fossil fuel extraction
- examples of ways to translate this information into a *fun* outreach event
Some accommodation is available and food will be provided. There’ll also be goody bags to help you get started on your own successful outreach.
If you can’t wait till August to target RBS then you should come along to the Break the Banks warm-up action which happens on Tuesday 13th July (that’s this week!).
The event, organised by Climate Camp and the Tar Sands Network, kicks off at 8.15am. The meeting point is Bank station. For info on the action and logistics take a look at the Facebook Event.
Finally, telling a comprehensive about climate change and climate justice is key to building a successful movement and telling the wider world about the issues at stake.
The workshop takes place on Saturday 31st July from 3pm to 6pm and is aimed at people involved in social movements, community organizing, direct action groups, progressive NGOs and anyone who is interested in engaging with them.
Donations of £3 are being asked for – although no-one will be turned away for lack of funds.
To RSVP or for more info email kevin [at] platformlondon.org