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UP! WAKE UP! IT'S YER LEGALLY BINDING...
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Issue 111, 14th March 1997
Let's play a game. Imagine you are standing on a public footpath monitoring the
activities of a waste company that's killing a protected species. The company
isn't happy with your presence and get a court order banning you from `spying'
on them. You visit the proposed route of the Newbury Bypass and are arrested.
Go directly to jail. You're a long term peace protester who decides to
break an injunction telling you not to enter an RAF base. Go directly to
In the never-ending quest to silence public protest, big business and
government are using court injunctions to gag those who want to blow the
whistle. Bans are a way for the rich and powerful to keep the polluters
polluting, the loggers logging, and the toxic landfillers filling our world
with hazardous waste.
In America, it's known as being SLAPPed - Strategic Lawsuits Against Public
Participation. Professor Penelope Canan from the University of Colorado
describes them as, "A new and very disturbing trend with grave consequences for
politically active citizens and for our political system." The injunction is
designed to silence people through legal intimidation, but hardly ever actually
comes to court.
People have been SLAPPed for attending meetings, for signing petitions,
reporting pollution violations, writing to newpaper editors, testifying at
public hearings and even taking part in boycotts.
Irene Mansfield was SLAPPed for $5,000,000 in 1986 for opposing a
hazardous waste landfill in Texas and calling it a `dump'. Mansfield's husband
was also named in the suit, for failing to `control his wife', even though he
had not protested against the landfill! In 1990, the Pacific Lumber Company
sued an American Earth First!er for $25,000 for sitting in a Redwood tree.
Like all good American ideas, it's McSpreading... In Britain, court
injunctions were supposed to protect people against harassment from named
individuals (such as violent ex-partners) but, funnily enough, they are
increasingly being use to try to deal with naughty protesters who just won't
First they came for the Travellers.
In 1985, after years of free festies at Stonehenge, the authorities had
enough, and decided to stop them happening. One problem: the gatherings were
not breaking any law. Wiltshire police and the local Council came up with a
civil injunction to prevent travellers from going to Stonehenge and used it as
justification for arresting everyone at the Battle of the Beanfield.
Then they came for the Road Protesters.
At Twyford Down, the state began getting rather angry with hundreds of people
constantly running round on site. So long as no-one caused any damage, then no
laws were being broken. 76 people were put on a High Court injunction by the
Dept of Transport (DoT), preventing them from entering the construction site or
interfering with work. Disregard of these conditions meant the risk of a six
month jail sentence for contempt of court. Undeterred, people continued to
protest and at least 8 people were eventually sent down. The DoT then tried to
sue the 76 for £3.2m in costs arising from the security and policing -
so not only did you get dragged around and beaten up,
you now had to pay for the privilege! Many people with homes or jobs were
facing financial ruin, but luckily, the case was so badly organised, it
eventually collapsed, with a few defendants having to pay a nominal
£500 in costs.
Then the CriminaI Justice Act came for us all.
This bigoted piece of legislation has made illegal just about any protest
that is vaguely effective. But even the CJA cannot stop the demonstrations, so
it's back to injunctions...
Klaus Armstrong-Braun, a Green Party Councillor on Flintshire County Council,
has been ordered by a court to stop `spying' on a waste company. The company,
AD Waste, is wholly owned by the council of which he is a member and is busy
turning Brookhill Quarry - containing the largest colony of Great Crested Newts
in Wales and used by local people for the past 40 years - into a toxic waste
However, before they could dump the waste they had to drain the main pool, a
principal habitat of the newts. Members of the public witnessed amphibians being minced up in the pumping
operation. Using a public footpath to monitor the operation, Klaus went to see
for himself and concluded the company's activities were breaching European law,
their licensing conditions and the negotiated management plan. So he complained
to the police and county council.
This didn't go down too well with AD Waste who decided to get heavy, accusing
Klaus of trespass, causing a nuisance and interrupting and disrupting their
rather dubious operations. They slapped a court injunction on him claiming
damages for "interruption of their operations" and ordering him not to "annoy,
disturb, spy upon, harass or picket" the company.
If he loses the case, he also risks losing his home. If the company succeed a
precedent will be set: threatening the rights of us all to monitor and check
the activities of companies degrading our environment.
Injunction advice from: EarthRights Environmental
Law Centre, The Battlebridge Centre, 2-6 Battlebridge Rd., London, N1 2TL Tel.
0171 278 1005.
- Peace campaigners are increasingly coming up against court
injunctions. British Aerospace have so far given 13 people lifetime injunctions
not to interfere with their business in any way - even encouraging people to
protest by handing out leaflets or speaking at a public meeting could land
these 13 in jail.
- Lindis Percy, long time peace campaigner, has been given 9
months for breaking an injunction restricting her from entering RAF Lakenheath.
Letters of support: Dl Medical Wing, HMP Holloway, Parkhurst Road, London.
- SchTOP Press! On Wednesday, Tracey Hart from the Peace Prisoner Support
Group had her home raided by CID and some of her belongings swiped -
including her diary and mailing list. She's warning everyone to make sure they
don't have anything lying around which could be "misinterpreted" like the odd pair
- At Newbury, information gathered by Brays Detective Agency
has been used by the DoT and Costain to get High Court injunctions served on 30
protesters, forbidding them from trespassing on the route of the bypass or
`interfering' in work. One man has already been inside for 3 months for
breaking his injunction.
The legal battle to save some of the Caledonian forest at Pressmennan
Woods has failed. The handful of protesters evicted from the woods earlier this
year are keeping an eye on the trees from a camp about a mile away. They
desperately need urgent assistance to prevent the oaks ending up as
dashboards in expensive German cars. Contact Heather: 0134 385 0225.
Got any spare time on your hands? WE NEED YOU!!!
SchNEWS training day, Wednesday 26th March
- 12:00-12:30 Introduction to SchNEWS
- 12:30-2:00 Writing stories (with breaks!)
- 2:30-3:30 Desk Top Publishing those very stories for inclusion in that week's actual SchNEWS!
- 3:45-4:30 Database and mailout
We are like Count Dracula: we cannot survive without a supply of fresh blood.
Ring the office to book yourself on the training experience of the millennium!
Reclaim The Streets (RTS) is organising a rather fab sounding `Two Day
Festival of Resistance' in London on 12th-13th April. On Saturday they will
join forces with the Liverpool Dockers, Women of the Waterfront and the
Hillingdon Hospital Workers for a `march for social justice'. Meet 12 noon at
Kenington Park. Sunday's details are still not confirmed. Ring 0171 281 4621.
Reclaim The Streets
- Check out the excellent Corporate Watch magazine. A must for
activists who want to get to the bottom of corporate dirty dealings. No. 3 out
now: £1.50 from Box E, 111 Magdalen Rd, Oxford, OX4 1RQ. Phone 01865
791391. Also at http://www.oneworld.org/cw/
- Wirral TUC are holding a music festival on Sun 25 May.They are looking
for bands who would like to play there. Info: Nick Kearns 0151 512 1868.
- Justice (without the question mark!) are a legal group who support
miscarriage of justice cases after appeals have failed, but where fresh
evidence is possible. They have produced `How To Appeal - a guide to the
criminal appeal system', £2.50, or free to prisoners (send 31p stamp).
Contact: Justice, 59 Carter Lane, London EC4V 5AG.
- The largest compost site site in Britain opened recently in Bournemouth.
The plant will be able to compost up to 40,000 tonnes of plant waste a year and
plans are afoot for a kerbside collection of household compostable waste.
- The Job Seekers Allowance Survival Guide, newly revised and updated, is
available from: Matt, c/o St. Omer, Fore Street, Marazion, Cornwall, TR17 0AH (Send an
SAE and two 1st class stamps).
- In anticipation of the Millennium Cycleways, Fourth Door Research have
devised the idea of cycle stations along the cycle routes. These would
provide rest and refreshment facilities, washrooms, cycle hire and repair.
Details from: Oliver Lowenstein, Fourth Door Research Unit, 1 Grange Road,
Lewes, East Sussex.
- Introducing Penzance Earth First! group for all you Cornish pixies. Tel:
- Martin Callaghan was crushed in a digger by the driver at the M65
Campaign in 1994. Now suffering permanent physical injury, he is trying to sue
the contractor, but has been consistently refused full legal aid. Can you help
foot Martin's legal bill? He expects his contribution to be
£300-£500. Send your readies to: Chris Maile, 43 Swan
Meadow Road, Poolstock, Wigan WN3 5BJ.
- Sat 15th - SchNEWSnight Political cabaret at the
Sanctuary, 51 Brunswick St. East, Hove
£1 before 9pm/£2 after.
- Sun 16th Celebratory walk & picnic along part of the no longer to be
built Worthing by-pass. Meet 12 noon, Lancing Ring car park.
- Wed 19 "Education and Health in Cuba". Talk by Prof. Theodore
MacDonald, Brighthelm Centre, Queen's Road, 7:30pm.
- Fri 21 Spring Equinox Gathering at WoMenwith Hill Womens' Peace Camp.
Contact: 01943 468593.
- Fri 21 Greenheart Dance Party: 01835 850364/01289 382565
- Fri 21 Premiere showing of `La Ballade des Sans-Papiers' (The Ballad of
the Sans-Papiers) at St. Mary's Church, Eversholt St., London NW1. Sans-Papiers
are 300 African asylum seekers campaigning against deportation from France.
- Wed 26 Talk on the Police Bill by Mike Schwarz of Bindman's solicitors,
East Oxford Community Centre, Cowley Road, 8pm.
- The residents of Holtsfield near Swansea, battling to stave off eviction
from their land since the '30's, have a last chance of justice with a hearing at
the House of Lords. Walking from Swansea to London, they will arrive to
present their case for the 20th March. 24hr info service from the 1st to
20th March: 01792 232463
- Congratulations to Cornish group Cot Region Residents Against Pollution for
winning best acronym of the week.
On Monday, over 50 people from the Scottish Socialist Alliance and
Save Our Services campaign occupied Glasgow City Council chambers for nineteen
hours. They tried to prevent the City Council from announcing £80
million worth of cuts, 1500 redundancies, closing down of 130 community
projects - and a 22% rise in Council Tax! George McNeilage of the North
Pollok Community Council said, "We have as much right as the councillors to
be in this building; they were voted in two years ago in a stand against cuts
and redundancies. Now they have betrayed every citizen of Glasgow and should
resist or resign." Embarrassed council leaders told police not to eject
protesters because they feared smashing the oak doors to the chambers. However
they did eventually meet and announce the cuts but Socialist Labour Councillor
Tommy Sheridan told SchNEWS: "The protests and actions will continue."
For more info: 0141 287 3934.
Thanks to our Bedfordshire correspondent for this little gem. The
National Intelligence HQ at Chicksands is advertising for security guards at
the bargain rate of £2.20 an hour. Applicants must pay £90
for their own uniform, but MoD officials confirmed "you would be allowed to
keep it afterwards."
As of this Friday the all new SchNEWS web site is up and running,
featuring back issues, diary dates and a comprehensive list of contacts. Best
of all, the latest issue of the SchNEWS will appear on the site in its full
glory each Friday morning (probably) and due to the miracle(?) of technology,
people all around the world will be able to download the SchNEWS from the
ether, print it and photocopy it for all their friends. (Available in HTML text
and Acrobat formats).
(Positive sides that don't even have negative sides)
The Centre for Alternative Technology in Mid Wales have created a paradise
from an old slate quarry. They have built everything from a water-powered cliff
railway, energy conservation house, solar-water heating and organic gardens.
CAT's seven acre visitor complex is not connected to the national grid, being
powered mainly from a combination of wind, water and solar power.
"Highlighting ecological problems is all well and good, but will have little
effect until people become inspired to take up the solutions."
or send for more info: CAT, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ. Tel: 01654 702400.
Centre for Alternative Technology
Massive police presence at the home of Richard Budge (owner of RJB
mining) early last Sunday, prevented a posse of ecotypes, ex-miners and
families telling the largest open cast mine operator in the country what they
really thought of him. When asked why Michael Heseltine was guarded by only two
policemen when he was paid similar visits, a copper replied "Well, no-one
likes Heseltine." Miners Support Group: 0181 672 9698.
A protester support group has been set up in South Wales, to provide
warm clothes, food etc. to anti open cast mining activists. Contact Endangered
Species on 01686 412563.
Officers in Sussex decided that Valentine's Day was the ideal time to
raid the home of suspected drug dealers. Sgt. Theresa Atkins found herself
dressed in a bunny costume pretending she was delivering a romantic message
"Inky Pinky poo, it's down to the nick for you." This more loved-up, fluffy
style police action apparently worked, as the flat door was opened by the
horrified owner only to see a giant rabbit, shortly followed by a number of
police officers. SchNEWS warns all readers to avoid anyone dressed as a mammoth
bunny, just in case they are amorous police ladies. Keep it fluffy.
This week the chairman of the Prison Governors' Association said: "No
one in their right mind would seriously consider the introduction of prison
ships and abandoned holiday camps as prison accommodation." Well one person
would and no prizes for guessing. Still, once SchNEWS heard that the good
prison ship Lollipop (OK, it's called Resolution) was costing the Prison
Service ten times more than its scrap value (and creating two jobs at a cost of
£4 million) we thought of a money making scheme. So, dear Fraulein
Widdacombe, Justice? have a very old, knackered van that's worth about
£100 scrap. Maybe you'd be interested? We're offering it to you at the
knock down price of £1,000...a bargain, we're sure you'll agree...
The SchNEWS advises all readers not to get SLAPPed with a injunction.
Always give your real name when `They' pursue you with big papery
things. Never wear a dress and wig and call yourself Gloria - you will
surely get away with anything. Then you will feel (bail) conditioned. Honest.
Fancy a couple of hours work a week mailing out SchNEWSrounds?
Please call the office and save two people from Repetitive Strain Injury!
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SchNEWS, PO Box 2600, Brighton, BN2 2DX, England
Phone/Fax (call before faxing): 01273 685913
Last updated 21 May 1997
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SchNEWS Web Team