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Judge rules climate change report is inadmissable evidence in Caroline Lucas trial

27th March 2014
Caroline Lucas trial: day four – morning evidence

The judge at the trial of Caroline Lucas and four other anti-fracking campaigners has refused to allow the defence to call an expert witness on climate change.

Tom Wainwright, defending Miss Lucas and Ruth Potts, submitted a report by Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change and deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Mr Wainwright said the report would establish a link between the development of fracking and the failure of the UK to meet its international commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

Mr Wainwright said the report established the defence of necessity: that the campaigners were reasonable and proportionate in their actions to avoid the threat of death or serious injury. He asked for it to be considered at this stage of the trial to help Professor Anderson’s travel plans.

Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, said Professor Anderson made no link between Cuadrilla’s activities and the peril of death or serious injury. He argued the report was irrelevant to the trial.

District Judge Tim Pattinson, sitting at Brighton Magistrates Court, said the law recognised the defence of necessity in extreme circumstances. It was available only, he said, if an action could be said to be reasonable and proportionate in order to avoid death or serious injury.

DJ Pattinson said there was a question of other steps that the campaigners could have taken. He also said the activities of Cuadrilla were too remote to the issue of climate change. “My view is that I cannot say from the evidence seen at this point that the defendants can hypothetically be said to be acting reasonably and proportionately to avoid death and serious injury. Therefore the defence of necessity fails and this evidence is irrelevant. I rule that as evidence it is inadmissible.”

The case continues with prosecution witnesses. The defence case is expected to begin later today.

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