Trial of Greenpeace 28, Tuesday 18 April 2000

Court Report, Issue12

Day 10

Judge Mellor's summing up

Judge Mellor began the day by explaining to the jury that his job was to
tell them what the law is as is relevant to the case, and to remind the jury
of some of the evidence. He said "Your duty as jurors is to come to an
honest view as to the facts, and to apply those facts to this law". The
judge told the jury that they had been billeted to try a case of more than
usual significance, and that the verdict they came to would be widely
publicised. He emphasised that issues of right and wrong arguments
surrounding GMOs should not have a relationship with verdicts of guilty or
not guilty, and that their own beliefs in this case should not be relevant
to the verdict they came to.

The two counts of criminal damage and theft were to be considered
separately, and Judge Mellor said "There are 28 defendants for you to
consider". He added that none of the Greenpeace 28 had tried to "shuffle
the blame somewhere else" and that "in a sense they are perhaps proud to
stand together". The lawful excuse that the defence maintain arises from
the Criminal Damage Act 1975 Sections 5.2 and 5.31 and is referred to as the
Statutory Defence.

The judge's questions for consideration were passed to the jury and are as
follows:

Criminal damage

1. Are you sure that X took part in damaging a maize crop belonging to
AgrEvo?

2. Was it or may it have been X's purpose to protect relevant
property2?

3. May X have honestly believed when taking part in damaging the maize
that relevant property was in immediate need of protection?

Theft

1. Are you sure that X was a party to an enterprise that involved
bagging and loading maize belonging to AgrEvo?

2. Are you sure that X intended that the maize should be disposed of
regardless of AgrEvo's rights?

3. Are you sure that by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest
people that what X did was dishonest?

4. Are you sure that X must have realised that her/his conduct would be
viewed as dishonest by ordinary, reasonable and honest people?

With regard to the charge of criminal damage, the jury were instructed to
bear in mind that they would not be considering any potential effect on wild
life or long-term effects on the environment which were out of the scope of
the immediate protection as envisaged by the Act. Judge Mellor stated that
to fall into the scope of a Statutory Defence, the defendants have to be
protecting immediate property from the results of the GM maize flowering.
He said "The purpose [should be] to protect that limited category of
property within the first strike of pollen". With regard to the first
charge of criminal damage, the jury were told that if they were to answer no
to any of questions 2, 3 or 4, then the Statutory Defence would not apply
and the verdict would be guilty. If all the questions were answered yes,
the verdict would be not guilty. With regard to the second charge of theft,
the jury were told that if their answer to all the questions was yes, the
verdict would be guilty, but that if the answer to any of these was no, the
verdict would be one of not guilty.

Judge Mellor emphasised that if the defendants have any previous convictions
on other occasions "they do not in any way show guilt".

In the second part of his summing up, Judge Mellor proceeded to remind the
jury of the evidence, describing the background of the case, and going
through the technical background of the history and methodology of the
genetic engineering used in this case as previously described in detail by
Chris Holden and others. He said that at one end was the upholding of the
view of substantial equivalence which he put as "it looks like maize, it
feels like maize, it tastes like maize: it is maize"; and that the other was
the "precautionary principle" which he summarised as "if in doubt, don't"
and explained that at the core of this position lay the belief that if a
living thing that can replicate itself is let loose in the environment, it
can never be called back again. He also referred to the notion that the
genetic alterations made were invisible "and may take a substantial time to
reveal themselves".

The judge then told the jury that Greenpeace adopts all means of campaigning
- lobbying, publicity, networking, events "all the way through to direct
action" in which the participants (volunteers) are trained in non-violence.
He gave a short summary of Greenpeace's campaign against GMOs, referring to
the Beanfeast campaign, supermarket tours, and the True Food campaign. He
said "Greenpeace sought to do all they could short of direct action to put
an end to the farm-scale trials". Judge Mellor then described the agreement
accepted by AgrEvo in their planting of farm-scale trial crops, referring to
the testimony of Judith Jordan of AgrEvo in which she claimed T-25 maize and
ordinary maize were no different from each other. He also reminded the jury
that the Scientific Committee that had been set up to oversee the farm-scale
trials had not got round to having their first meeting until after the seeds
were planted in spring 1999; in fact, the evidence had revealed that the
Scientific Committee had not even been set up at this stage.

The logistics of the action at Lyng and preparations leading up to it were
then outlined by the judge, as were the actions that took place on 26 July
1999 at Walnut Tree Farm. He told the jury that the evidence was that there
was no injunction at the farm when the defendants arrived and that "it
didn't name any of these defendants in any event". The jury were told that
the action from its start till the final arrest took 35 minutes.

Judge Mellor then went through the list of defendants reminding the jury of
each of the defendants' employment on 26 July 1999, their educational
achievements, and their campaigning history with Greenpeace. He also
outlined their main concerns and intentions informing their action at Lyng
and what their specific actions were at and leading up to the action.

The judge concluded by telling the jurors that they may have found the
defendants to be intelligent, informed, idealistic, decent, and said that if
the defendants were right, we should be grateful if they succeeded in their
campaign. He suggested that with regard to the charge of theft, the jurors
should look at question 3 first (above). The judge sent the jury away,
asking them to try and come to a unanimous verdict, telling them that they
would be brought back at 4.15pm when they could tell the court whether they
needed more time to come to a verdict. At 4.15pm the jury said that they
needed more time, and they were told to continue their deliberation in the
morning.

Footnotes:

1 These Sections make reference to property being damaged in order to
protect other property.
2 'relevant property' means maize crops liable to cross-pollinate
with pollen from the trial crop and any other property susceptible to direct
damage by that pollen, but it does not include anything growing wild on any
land or any wild creature.



Subscription Details:

If you want to stay informed and continue to receive Greenpeace 28
do nothing. If you do not want to receive future copies of Greenpeace 28,
send the following
message to Majordomo@xs2.greenpeace.org :
(in the body of the message, not the subject title):

unsubscribe greenpeace-28

Similarly, if you wish to subscribe with a different address, send
the following message:

subscribe greenpeace-28 [address]

Greenpeace 28 is edited by Blake Lee-Harwood, Media Director and
produced by Myrto Pispini.

Editorial queries to: Owner-greenpeace-28@xs2.greenpeace.org

See Greenpeace UK press releases at
http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media.htm

Back