Three protestors against Solid Energy's Happy Valley coal mine had their day in court today over a protest last year in which they hung a banner from a building. While one was convicted and fined for trespass, the other two were acquitted on charges of being unlawfully on a building. The NZPA wire story on Stuff says that the acquittals appear to set new protest rules, but its not new at all. Section 29 (2) of the Summary Offences Act 1981 (is quite explicit:
It is not necessary in a prosecution under this section for the prosecutor to prove that the defendant had an intention to commit any other offence, but it is a defence if the defendant satisfies the Court that he had no such intention.
The two protestors convinced the judge that they had no unlawful purpose there - protest in itself not being unlawful - and so they had a defence in law (leaving when the police asked probably helped here, and certainly prevented trespass charges). The convicted man, OTOH, had previously had a trespass notice issued against him for the premises, and had barricaded a door leading to the roof, so the defence clearly wasn't available to him.
If Solid Energy is unhappy with this judgement, they could always try asking people to leave next time...