GM protesters win three-year court battle (15/10/2004)
GM protesters win three-year court battle
Highland News (Scotland), 14/10/2004
FOUR GM crop protesters convicted of aggravated trespass for their part in a protest at Munlochy on the Black Isle in August 2001 won their appeal at the High Court in Edinburgh last week.
"GM Martyr" Donnie MacLeod from Ardersier, Catriona Spink from Gorthleck, Dan Puplett from Findhorn, and James Grigg from Auldearn, had their convictions quashed.
In April last year they were found guilty by Sheriff Alexander Pollock at Dingwall Sheriff Court of aggravated trespass at Tullich Farm, near Munlochy, and fined GBP100 each.
The quartet successfully claimed last week that Sheriff Alexander Pollock, who convicted them, had erred by rejecting a submission that the Crown had failed to identify in court the field in which the GM crop was planted, and in which the offences were alleged to have taken place.
The field had been identified by an Ordnance Survey map grid reference, but no map had been produced during their trial.
The defendants had also produced as grounds for appeal their claims that no trespass was involved; that the sowing of the GM crop was being carried out unlawfully, and that an organic farmer had the right to enjoy his possessions without undue interference under the European Human Rights Act - although these points were not proceeded with.
The three appeal judges, headed by Lord Marnoch, granted the appeal, saying it was not apparent that the sheriff had consulted an Ordnance Survey map, nor was it apparent that had he done, the field on which the alleged trespass took place could clearly have been identified.
Mr MacLeod (56), an organic farmer, of Kylerona Farm, Ardersier - who in the course of the GM dispute was jailed for 21 days for refusing to give evidence against fellow protesters - said later: "The verdict of the appeal judges vindicates the stance taken at Munlochy and sends a message to the multinational GM companies that the people of the Highlands do not want or need their bully-boy tactics on GM crops.
"It has taken three years to clear ourselves, and we should not have been convicted in the first place."