Rule of Law at Stake in UK

by William Yeatman on December 9, 2008

Yesterday the UK saw a large group of protesters bring a major London airport to a halt. Plane Stupid (you can’t get them for false advertising, that’s for sure) managed to cancel over 50 flights as the airport closed for five hours while police arrested 56 people, of whom 49 have now been charged.

As Christopher Booker reminds us, eco-activists in the UK were encouraged when a jury found a gang of Greenpeace protesters not guilty of criminal damage to a power station on the grounds that they had a lawful excuse in that they believed they were stopping further global warming. The jury was swayed on what should have been an open-and-shut case by the testimony of none other than James Hansen, NASA’s climate bigwig.

I am not sure if the same “lawful excuse” defense applies in the case of aggravated trespass (perhaps m’learned friends could advise), but it is clear that the Plane Stupid types felt they had such an excuse, declaring that they were “terrified” by the threat of global warming. If it does apply, and Hansen flies in (dwell for a second on the hypocrisy involved) to support these protesters, with the Crown Prosecution Service once again failing to challenge or even balance his evidence, we may be set for a cascade where climate protesters can essentially do anything they want. Property rights will cease to have meaning and the rule of law will collapse, for the law can be set aside in the name of the environment. Britain’s unwritten constitution will have adopted a clause similar to that just adopted by Ecuador. What happens in this case will be of profound importance.

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