Thursday, February 21, 2013

Coal corporation opposes fair trials

For the past few years the UK has been wracked by climate change protests, as the public has tried to turn the country away from dirty coal-fired generation. The protests have seen widespread abuses by police, from abuse of terror laws and pre-emptive arrests to long-term spies infiltrating the protest movement and acting as agent provocteurs. And now it turns out that coal giant E.ON has been furiously lobbying Ministers in an effort to fix trials and increase sentences:

The UK chief executive of energy giant E.ON repeatedly lobbied the then-energy secretary Ed Miliband and others over the sentencing of activists disrupting the company's power plants, warning that any failure to issue "dissuasive" sentences could "impact" upon investment decisions in the UK.

The warnings, which came while the government was still trying to persuade E.ON and others to invest in next-generation nuclear plants, have been described by activists as "wholly improper".


Referring to a group of activists due to be sentenced for aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe, another power station owned by E.ON, on the same day as Golby's scheduled meeting, the memo cautioned: "Today [5th Jan] these 20 activists are due to be sentenced. EoN, and indeed other market participants in the generating sector, are hoping for a dissuasive sentencing to discourage similar such incidents in the future."

"Improper" doesn't even begin to describe it. In a free and democratic society convictions are decided by independent courts, not officials, and sentences are determined by judges, not Ministers. And E.ON knows this. Its lobbying can only be seen as an attempt to get the Minister to unlawfully intervene in the judicial process to the detriment of the fair trial rights of the accused. And that is simply unacceptable.

(As for the outcome, the activists were initially convicted, then had their sentences quashed at the invitation of prosecutors after it was revealed that a police spy had acted as a provocteur and withheld evidence. Fuck you, E.ON).