A five-strong panel of the House of Lords will this week hear appeals from environmental campaign group Greenpeace on behalf of a group of activists who protested at military bases in an attempt to prevent the Iraq war.
Lords Bingham, Hoffmann, Roger, Carswell and Mance will decide whether individuals who break the law with the intention of preventing a greater “crime of aggression” have a justifiable defence.
Bindman & Partners partner Mike Schwarz is acting for Greenpeace, instructing Matrix Chambers’ Rabinder Singh QC for most of the 20 appellants. Nick Grieff and Vaughan Lowe, professors of international law at Bournemouth and Oxford Universities respectively, are also instructed, and East London’s Foresters is acting for three of the appellants.
A group of Greenpeace volunteers is appealing a February 2004 conviction of aggravated trespass. The 14 activists were arrested after occupying tanks at Marchwood military base in Southampton in an attempt to delay the transport of military hardware to Iraq in 2003.
Another protester, Valerie Swain, was also convicted of aggravated trespass for entering RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire with the intention of disrupting the loading of bombs onto B52 aircraft.
A separate group of five demonstrators is awaiting the outcome of its trial for a similar offence.