An appeal to better judgement

Today defendants Tilly Gifford and Dan Glass from the Climate 9 had their appeal heard at Edinburgh Appeal Court against the conviction they received last summer for a breach of the peace.

The conviction related to direct action taken in March 2009 where the Climate 9 shut down Aberdeen airport and directly stopped 107 tonnes of emissions from contributing to man-made climate change. They played golf in a cage on the taxiway to highlight the fact that the airport's expansion will serve to deliver Donald Trump's super-rich golfer pals to his contentios course at Balmedie Estate.

Following a two week long trial in August 2010, which was the first jury-led climate change trial in Scotland, all 9 defendants were convicted of Breach of the Peace for their role in the protest. Dan and Tilly made the decision to appeal against the conviction as they hold firm to the belief that the action they took was justified, proportionate and necessary in the face of catastrophic climate change.

Appellant Dan Glass said:

"The Scottish legal system defines breach of the peace as an activity "causing fear and alarm to the ordinary and reasonable person, and which threatens serious disturbance to the community". I can't think of a better way to describe climate change. Sometimes, we believe, the law must be challenged to protect our fundamental freedom of expression and to disrupt lawful activities that are harming the prospects of future generations. Furthermore, it's the role of a democracy to protect the voices of the minority as well as the majority".

The appeal has reached its final stages after months of anticipation and against the backdrop of severe climate change, as recent estimates suggest an unthinkable 4 degree temperature rise by 2080. During the 4 hour hearing this morning the court heard a strong case from the defence, who argued that the jury wasn't given any sense of this grave context regarding both the importance and urgency of the protest.

Appellant Tilly Gifford said:

"The judge presented a choice to the jury between 'breach of the peace' and 'freedom of expression' without any context. This is simply not good enough. The jury should be given the serious climate change context of the situation relating to the case, otherwise the inference is completely abstract from the reality."

The appeal verdict will be heard within the next 6 weeks in a final court hearing. A date is not set yet. If it is successful it will set an important precedent for future protest cases, through actively defending freedom of expression and supporting the legitimacy of the right to protest given the governments inaction to effectively tackle climate change. It would be the first legal case in Scotland to engage with the severity of climate change that we face and challenge the 'business as usual' attitude that the aviation industry is taking in its expansion plans.

Plane Stupid spokesperson, Joe Ryle said:

"Aviation remains the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions in the UK and we cannot let this go unchallenged. However the heart of this debate is about our fundamental right to protest and whether we are prepared to tolerate greater disruption to business as usual in the face of climate change."