New Zealand Waihopai Activists – Not Guilty
Posted by anti militarist on March 19, 2010
New Zealand activists may hold the key to a successful defence in UK courts. Anti-spying activists have been cleared of all charges using an argument that they were preventing harm to others! This can only provide what’s called a ‘persuasive precedent’ in UK cases because it’s in New Zealand, but the more examples there are in the world of this defence succeeding, the more likely it is to succeed in UK courts. Activists who broke into a Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) facility and damaged a satellite dish have escaped prosecution using a defence of protecting the public. A jury agreed with them and, despite the judges advice, supported the activists. Their defence was described as follows: “Our defence was based around a claim of right, which is a legal term that says if we believed that our acts were lawful, we had a defence,” said Mr Leason.
“We might be wrong in law – as the judge actually suggested we were and actually made a ruling, we were in error in law but we were correct in our belief that we were acting lawfully.
“In New Zealand law that’s a good thing to do – to act in an effort to help and save another in danger.”
“We are convinced in our hearts and minds that that spy base, for 20 years, has been contributing to US war machine, war effort – particularly the war in Iraq, we can prove that,” said Mr. Murnane.
If you have any understanding of British law you will know that this does not directly influence cases in the UK (such as the EDO activism cases or even potential Climate Camp prosecutions in future), but the fact there is a foreign legal precedent does indirectly affect British cases. Especially as New Zealand is a Commonwealth country.