QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE SILBER
| DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
|OLAF BAYER, WILLIAM JACOB HART, ELIZABETH SNOOK, and RICHARD WILLIAM TOLLADAY WHISTANCE
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited, 190 Fleet Street
London EC4A 2AG
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Nerida Harford-Bell & Anya Lewis (instructed by Bindman and Partners) for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Respondents
The 3rd Respondent appeared in person.
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Brooke : This is a judgment of the court.
"that you, together with , having trespassed on land in the open air, namely Horselynch Plantation, Weymouth, and in relation to a lawful activity, namely the planting of maize seeds which persons were engaged in on that land, did an act, namely attached yourself to a tractor engaged in lawful activity on that land by means of a strap and metal carabineer clip which you intended to have the effect of disrupting that activity."
Contrary to section 68(1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
"(1) A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land in the open air, and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land in the open air, does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect
(c) of disrupting that activity."
(i) The planting of GM crops was not a criminal activity, but such crops could cause damage to surrounding property by pollen distribution, animal transfer and soil transfer;
(ii) The word "property" includes nature, crops and domestic animals, all of which were in close proximity to the site;
(iii) A proper regulatory system was not in place and the respondents were obliged to take action;
(iv) The respondents' knowledge and beliefs were honestly held;
(v) The test to be applied was: "Were the respondents' actions reasonable in all the circumstances?
(vi) They therefore had a defence under common law for the defence of property.
(i) They had honestly held and genuine beliefs about the dangers of GM crops;
(ii) They had genuine fears for surrounding property;
(iii) They had reasonable grounds for those beliefs and fears given their scientific knowledge concerning GM crops tests and given also their knowledge of the locality;
(iv) Taking into account those beliefs and fears, they acted with all good intentions and had gone no further than was absolutely necessary to try to prevent the saving of the crops;
(v) Their actions were therefore reasonable in all the circumstances and came within the defence at common law of defence of property.
For these reasons he dismissed the charges.
"Whether the finding by me that the actions of all four respondents in locking or attaching themselves to the tractors was reasonable in the defence of property was a finding properly open to me, judging the issue of reasonableness objectively."
(i) That the respondents trespassed on Mr Jones's land in the open air;
(ii) That Mr Charles Foot and other members of his staff were engaging in a lawful activity on Mr Jones's land in the open air with their tractors;
(ii) That by attaching themselves to the tractors the respondents were doing acts which were intended by them to have the effect of disrupting that activity.
"This case has to be considered in the light of the evidence which was said to have amounted to reckless driving. This evidence had two facets: one was what the prosecution alleged to be the acts of recklessness; and the other was that these same acts amounted to the use of reasonable force for the purpose of assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders. In our judgment it is only when the evidence has these two facets that s 3(1) of the 1967 Act can apply. This being so, the occasions for relying on that section will be rare, certainly not when the reckless acts were antecedent to the use of force. In our judgment the alleged presence of these two facets in the appellant's evidence concerning why he did the acts which the prosecution said were reckless was capable of providing him with a defence. It is no answer for the prosecution to submit, as counsel for the Crown did, that the wording of ss 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1972 shuts out any possibility of such a defence because they contained no words such as 'lawful excuse'. Nor does s 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; but s 3(1) has been used to provide a defence to charges under that section."
"The intentional infliction of bodily harm is not a crime when it is inflicted by any person in order to defend his property or the property of another from a felony involving the use of force towards such property provided the person inflicting it inflicts no greater injury than he in good faith believed to be necessary when he inflicts it."
"27(i) The use of force by a person for any of the following purposes, if only such as is reasonable in the circumstances as he believes them to be, does not constitute an offence
(c) to protect his property from trespass;
(d) to protect property belonging to another from damage caused by a criminal act or (with the authority of the other) from trespass
"29(i) For the purposes of section 27
(a) a person uses force in relation to property not only where he applies force to, but also where he causes an impact on, that property;"
"if he damaged the property in question. in order to protect property belonging to another and at the time of the acts alleged to constitute the offence he believed
(i) that the property was in immediate need of protection;
(ii) that the means of protection adopted were reasonable having regard to all the circumstances."
"Are the defendants contending that they used reasonable force in order to defend property from actual or imminent damage which constituted or would constitute an unlawful or criminal act?"
If the answer to this question is "no", as in the present case, the defence is not available. If the answer is "yes", then the court must go on to consider the facts as the defendants honestly believed them to be, and should then determine objectively whether the force they used was no more than was reasonable in all the circumstances, given their beliefs.
LORD JUSTICE BROOKE: Silber J is unable to be here today and the attendance of the parties have been excused.
For the reasons set out in the judgments of the court, copies of which will be made available to the parties, this appeal is allowed. The case should be remitted to the district judge with a direction to convict. We are happy to make an order that the pre-publicly-funded respondents have their costs appropriately assessed. If there are any further applications in relation to this matter a date will be fixed when Silber J will be available to deal with the court.