Well, if people lose money because of your actions then yes, you do owe it to them

Activists who occupied a power station for a week to highlight their opposition to producing electricity from natural gas are being sued for £5m by the owners of the plant in a move they claim will stifle the right to protest.

Quite right too.

A statement from EDF said it supported the right to \”lawful protest\” but it was important anyone considering direct action should be aware \”they may face consequences through civil action for the damage, cost and disruption they cause\”.

Environmental groups supportive of the campaigners\’ aims have condemned the action, which they claim is a punitive attempt to deter others.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, likened the action to the McLibel case, a legal action mounted by McDonald\’s in the 1990s against two activists which dragged on for more than a decade.

\”It\’s difficult to imagine how we at Greenpeace could have run our campaigns against illegal rainforest timber imports or pirate fishing if every time we took direct action we were landed with a multimillion-pound bill,” he said.

\”EDF\’s civil claim is an attempt by a state-owned French company to undermine the British tradition of organised dissent.\”

The warnings were echoed by members of other direct action groups.

Anna Walker of UK Uncut said the threat of could \”crush\” the organisation\’s right to protest, and Joss Garman, co-founder of the anti-airport expansion group Plane Stupid said the action could leave people with \”one less tool to defend themselves\”.

You have every right to protest: it\’s called freedom of speech. You\’ve every right to form groups to do so: it\’s called freedom of association. But so do other peop[le have the right to lawfully enjoy their property.

If you, in a group protest, smash a window of someone then yes, you are rightly and righteously liable for the costs of replacing that window. Why shouldn\’t you be? And there is no difference between that and your being liable for lost income as a result of your actions.

Imagine, just as an absurd example, that your legal and wholly righteous demo stops me from making my way to clock on for a shift, a shift that I am paid for solely and purely by the shift. Do you owe me the money for that shift? You most assuredly do, yes (and let us sidestep the legal difficulties of proof here and think just about what is just here).

You absolutely do have the right to combine and shout while waving fists in the air. And that freedom exists and last right up to the moment that those waving fists bloody the nose of another. Damaging the property or income of another is indeed a bloodying of the nose.

QED.

28 comments on “Well, if people lose money because of your actions then yes, you do owe it to them

  1. The tambourine bangers and saloon wreckers have expected a protected social status since their Victorian origins. It’s well past time they started paying for the consequences of their actions. They’re just thugs. Despicable bunch, the whole lot of them.

  2. Some people would do well to read Martin Luther King’s letter from Birmingham Jail.

    “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

  3. EDF’s civil claim is an attempt by a state-owned French company to undermine the British tradition of organised dissent.

    Aye, because organised dissent is unheard of in France.

  4. If you, in a group protest, smash a window of someone then yes, you are rightly and righteously liable for the costs of replacing that window.

    It is also important to mention that you’ve committed a criminal act of criminal damage, and should be hauled into court on a criminal charge as a consequence. It’s not just a civil damages matter.

    Trespass, criminal damage, breaking and entering, conspiracy…

  5. It can’t be long now before we find a fake charity hiding behind the defence that they were paid to act against the law by the government.

  6. DBC Reed – are you engaging in more selective rewriting/misreading of history? Taff Vale seems a remarkably poor precedent to quote.

  7. These activists have become confused about the differences between civil disobedience, lawful protest and sabotage.

    Civil disobedience is where you openly and with dignity disobey a law you believe to be unjust, and take the consequences of doing so.

    Lawful protest is where you deploy lawful means such as letter writing, leafletting, approved demonstrations, to show your opposition to a law or activity.

    Sabotage is where you use unlawful means to interfere with the activities of people you oppose.

    These activists are trying to colour sabotage as civil disobedience and, worse, saying that it is also lawful protest so they shouldn’t be liable for the consequences.

  8. “Imagine, just as an absurd example, that your legal and wholly righteous demo stops me from making my way to clock on for a shift, a shift that I am paid for solely and purely by the shift. Do you owe me the money for that shift? You most assuredly do, yes”

    I don’t think that works as a rule of thumb. You could equally say that, if you are late for your shift as a consequence of traffic, the driver of every car ahead of you on the road owes you the money for your shift.

  9. I’d argue that you should have a case if the road was deliberately and illegally blocked to protest against something you legally want to do (recent Occupod blockading of buildings etc.). It is a shame this doesn’t get tested by the courts (or violent football fans).

    The attitude of protesters always seems to be that of the morally superior lefty, namely that ‘my cause is more important than your time or need’.

  10. The roads issue is a difficult one, because it’s the Public Square, and as such nobody has any particular right to access over another citizen. People are just supposed to have some sort of consideration for one another, and if they don’t eventually a constable will come along and ask them to move, cease and desist, whatever.

    As such, IMV again it’s not really a civil law matter. Somebody persistently being an arsehole (e.g. deliberately blocking the road) should be arrested for a criminal offence of Being An Arse In The Public Square. Or else, anyone should be free to do anything, in which case one man’s desire to get to work doesn’t exceed another’s desire to have a jamboree in the middle of the road.

    One or the other.

    Basically, to bring a case you’d have to assume a right to get to work down an unobstructed thoroughfare, and so far as I know there isn’t any such right.

    It’s much clearer when private property is invaded by direct action thugs. They’re trespassing, and should receive a criminal penalty, as well as damages awarded against them for any loss.

  11. Of course, if anyone who disliked Greenpeace were to burn down their headquarters (heaven forfend), they would recognise this as a form of freedom of expression, and refuse to support any prosecution.

  12. Vague memories from a law degree, that things that are perfectly legal if done individually (Ian B’s blocking the road) can be illegal if several people conspire to do it.

    Wasn’t there a Denning judgement about wheelbarrows to that effect?

  13. I wonder if EDF has a defence fund I can contribute to.

    Pat – “Of course, if anyone who disliked Greenpeace were to burn down their headquarters (heaven forfend), they would recognise this as a form of freedom of expression, and refuse to support any prosecution.”

    If they win I will be awfully tempted. I wonder how long I would get if it all went pear shaped. Might be worth it anyway.

  14. Aye, because organised dissent is unheard of in France.

    It is, they only have disorganised dissent. Mostly in the form of torched cars.

    It

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