Friday, August 25, 2006

Its not unlawful until they ask you to leave

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.

(Emphasis added).

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...


The article on Stuff really was naive to talk about "new protest rules", but otherwise it was quite good for SHV, I reckon. They put some good quotes in there from the arrested crew :)

As for the barricade - Dan wasn't given all the reparations because there was any suggestion that HE was the one that made it. It was just that he was the only one convicted.

An interesting side note is that the Police NEVER asked them to remove the barricade - perhaps if they had, they wouldn't have had to break down the door?

Posted by Asher : 8/26/2006 04:18:00 PM