Greenpeace GM protesters cleared (16/9/2005)

Yet again a jury unanimously supports the protesters.

Wonder if the jury stayed behind afterwards to congratulate them, like they did in the case of the Lyng 28?

Perhaps Nicole Cook could tell us, as she featured in both cases.

Greenpeace GM protesters cleared
icWales, Sep 16 2005

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners who staged a two-day protest on a cargo ship they believed was carrying illegal and unapproved genetically modified crops were cleared by a court today.

Ten men and three women from the Greenpeace organisation were cleared at Cardiff Crown Court of causing a public nuisance after boarding MV Etoile in the Bristol channel in June of last year.

The 123,000-tonne Panamanian-registered ship was eventually able to dock after the lengthy delay.

The jury, who retired to consider their verdict yesterday lunch-time, reached a unanimous verdict.

Ben Ayliffe, 28, a Greenpeace employee involved in researching GM organisms was one of the accused.

He said: "We are all chuffed to bits and overjoyed with the verdict. We were convinced we were fully justified in taking the actions that we did and I'm glad the jury felt the same way.

"We are going to ask the that the government investigate the issue of GM crops because we believe they pose an irreversible threat to the environment."

He added: "We would absolutely do it all again if need be As we said to the jury, we don't take this kind of action lightly but we felt compelled to do something. We are going to continue our campaign and urge the government to clamp down on GM crops."

During the trial Mr Ayliffe said he believed the protest was justified "given what we thought was on board the Etoile, absolutely".

He added: "I absolutely, 100% believed there were illegal, unapproved GM crops on the Etoile when we stopped it."

He claimed that in the US, GM and non-GM crops are "thrown together" and the UK's Environmental Protection Act was clear that GM material had to be approved and "anything that is not approved is not allowed in".

Mr Ayliffe said he did not believe the law was being enforced properly.

"My experience with the GM industry is that they tend to close ranks," he said.

"They don't like studies leaking out to the public about crops that aren't meant to be there."

He said his experience with the industry was that "they are quite mendacious"

Prosecutor Jervis Kay QC told the court of how the ship was on a voyage from the US to Britain when progress was impeded by Greenpeace protesters.

The vessel was forced to anchor and was unable to use her engine, he said.

"These foolhardy acts amounted to acts constituting a public nuisance," said Mr Kay.

Mr Kay said the incident was a "joint enterprise", with defendants boarding ladders on either side of the ship and near the rudder, with others acting as a "support team" in inflatable boats, giving press interviews.

"A great deal of pre-planning and preparation on the part of the members of Greenpeace had taken place," said Mr Kay.

Mr Kay said the impact of the defendants' actions was "substantial and wide-ranging".

The ship's cargo was delayed, costs of hiring the vessel were wasted and there were costs incurred in preparing the vessel to come into harbour.

He said the RNLI and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had been involved and South Wales police had deployed more than 80 staff to deal with the incident. A police helicopter was deployed on two occasions.

The defendants include: Andrew Taylor, 35, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, Janet Miller, 49, and Huw Williams, 38, both of Buxton, Derbyshire, Tim Hewke, 45, of Sittingbourne, Kent, Nicola Cook, 37, of St Cross, Suffolk, and Cedric Counord, 28, of France, appeared with Allen Vincent, 42, of Peckham, south London, Michele Rosato, 33, of Bow, east London, Rachel Murray, 31, of Highbury, north London, Jens Loewe, 36, Richard Watson, 40, and Ayliffe, all of Islington, north London and Frank Hewetson, 40, of Kensal Rise, north-west London.


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