6. Accepting the consequences

In this section...

""My struggle for a truth to stand within must carry into the trial itself, for the deepest, most living truth emerges through intense conflict seeking reconciliation. Truth is not a slab of concrete to rest my life upon, but a luminous force in which I stand and which I discover is sparked into more dazzling light by the conflict of challenge and response."

James Douglass.

6.1 If you are arrested....

You'll be in very good company if you do get arrested, and will be joining a long line of people who have been arrested for their beliefs. The experience of getting arrested is different for everyone. It can be emotionally moving, good fun, spiritually inspiring, extremely scary, empowering or isolating. Your experience is likely to be more positive if you know what to expect and if you prepare your action thoroughly.

The police sometimes give warnings before they arrest you because they don't like filling out the paperwork required if they do arrest you! If you are arrested, you should hear the words: "I am arresting you for ...[they should say an actual offence here]. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." However, it may come out as "You're nicked!". We recommend that you do not make any statement when they formally arrest you, other than to refer them to your prepared written statement and give them a copy - make sure that they make a note that you have given them your prepared statement. Save the other copy for the interview in case they lose the first one.

6.1.1 At the police station

When you arrive at the station you'll be "booked in" by the custody/desk sergeant .They will ask you loads of questions, the only thing you have to tell them is your name and address. The address that you give should be verifiable or they won't let you out on bail. They may phone or send someone to the address you give to check that you do live there. They will also ask you for your date of birth and lots of other questions but you don't legally have to give any more information. We strongly recommend that you say nothing else with a few exceptions such as special dietary needs like being vegetarian, vegan, GM free food, or if you need medication, see also below section 6.1.4 on interviews. Tell the police (and have it recorded on your custody record) that you give them full permission to disclose any information about your arrest to your contact person but to nobody else.

You are entitled to see a solicitor and also to have someone informed of your arrest. You can ask for your chosen solicitor at any point during your custody. You should have the number of your chosen solicitor written in biro on your arm so you don't lose it during the action. The police must take reasonable steps to get them there as soon as possible or at least get them on the telephone. You should be able to speak to them in private. All legal advice in the police station is free whatever your financial position. You should also be allowed to let someone know that you have been arrested, sometimes they let you make the call yourself, but this is at their discretion.

You will be entitled to consult a copy of the PACE Codes of Practice. You may also be allowed (this is only a PACE recommendation) writing materials. If you don't decide to ask for any of these things immediately you can change your mind later. However, you may have trouble getting their attention later on, as calls from cells are often ignored.

6.1.2 Searches and possessions

The custody sergeant can authorise a search, including a strip search (the latter only if they have reasonable suspicion that you are concealing a weapon or class A drug). So, be sure not to carry things on the action that could get you into trouble. They can search you for anything which could cause injury, damage property, interfere with evidence or assist in escape e.g. shoelaces, belts, lighters and matches. It is only on these grounds, or on the grounds that they might constitute evidence, that the custody sergeant can retain clothes or personal effects although in practice they often keep everything. Anything taken off you should be meticulously listed and put into a sealed bag in your presence. You will then be asked to sign the list to say it is correct. Check it and sign immediately below the last item so they cannot add anything.

6.1.3 In the cell

They will then put you in a cell. This can be the boring bit but you could read your book (take one with you to the action), exercise, write, sleep, meditate, sing (take a song sheet with you), etc. Large numbers of arrestees together can be good fun with people singing and talking.

The police will normally only hold you until they obtain enough evidence to charge you. In the case of the genetiX snowball action you will probably be arrested with plenty of "evidence" of your alleged "crime". You could be released within a couple of hours, but be prepared to be held for longer and possibly overnight. They are allowed to hold you without taking you before a magistrate for up to 36 hours, although they would not normally want to keep you this long.

Whilst you are in your cell, and provided they have agreed to let you have pencil and paper, it is a good idea to make notes about the action and your arrest whilst the details are still fresh in your mind, then sign and date the notes. You are allowed to refer to these contemporaneous notes in court.

6.1.4 Interviews

They may decide to interview you in an attempt to get more evidence. If this happens, have your solicitor present. Remember that you are NOT obliged to say anything and that you DO still have the right to silence. The only change since the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) in 1994 is that if you do not mention a fact in your interview, that you later rely on at trial, the court can draw "adverse inferences" from this. We would strongly recommend, however, that you say nothing other than to refer them to your ready-prepared personal statement (so avoiding the possibility that they might "lose" it), or to actually read out your statement in the interview. This is for two reasons: if you make any kind of statement verbally or in writing that gives them "better evidence" they will be able to use this instead of the one that you have so carefully prepared; secondly, you may find that you get led into saying things that you regret, you may accidently implicate other people, even if you are very experienced you may find it difficult to withstand questions once you have started talking, and if you answer some questions but not others they can make inferences from this. Your prepared written statement, made in quiet reflection, is more likely to reflect your reasons for taking nonviolent action than one which is made under pressure during a police interview. The best place for you to speak about your action is during the court case.

6.1.5 Fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples

They are entitled to fingerprint and photograph you, but only after you have been charged. They can also take DNA samples from you, although with campaigners on minor charges, this is unusual. You can ask for the records to be destroyed if you are acquitted or if they decide not to prosecute but you must apply within 5 days of acquittal/decision not to prosecute.

6.1.6 Juveniles

People under 17 who are arrested are classed as "juvenile", and there are slightly different procedures. The main one is that the person responsible for them should be informed about what is happening, and nothing should happen to them at the police station in the absence of an "appropriate adult" (e.g. parent or guardian).

6.1.7 Outcomes

There are several things that the police can then decide to do with you.

They may release you without charge and that'll be the end of the case against you.

They may offer you a caution if it is a minor offence. The police do this to avoid the hassle, expense and paperwork of going to court. They also do it in cases where they do not have enough evidence to prosecute, in order to get a result, if this is the case and you refuse a caution then they will usually drop the case. Accepting the caution means that you have said that you are guilty. It is not a criminal conviction (although it does have to be disclosed in the same circumstances as a conviction e.g. job applications) but it will stay on your record for three years, and may be taken into account if you get arrested again. Think carefully about the possibility of being offered a caution before the action and discuss it in your affinity group. It may be pragmatic to accept one, especially if you don't want to risk going to court and getting a conviction, but you will lose the opportunity to test your defence and bring the issues to the public.

If the police want to take the matter further they will charge you (the possible charges are dealt with in section 6.2). Once charged you may then be released on bail to appear in the Magistrates court at a later date. If you have no verifiable address or they think you may commit further offences they may hold you on remand until the next sitting of the Magistrates.

6.1.8 Support at the police station

Your affinity group can make a huge difference to the experience of being held in custody. They can inform the genetiX snowball office about your arrest. They can try to get contact with you, although this depends on the friendliness of the desk sergeant. You may be able to receive books, letters (the police will read them), tobacco and possibly food. It is very reassuring to know that there are supporters watching out for you at the police station and it is good to get a warm welcome back when you are released and a lift home. Your supporters can make sure that anyone who has witnessed your arrest writes a witness statement; if witnesses have to leave early they could at least leave their contact details.

6.1.9 Release

When you are released from police custody they should return all your possessions except those to be used in evidence. You should get a receipt for anything they keep as evidence. Once you are out, please phone the person you informed that you had been arrested and also contact the snowball office to let us know what happened. The police are under no obligation to transport you back to where you were arrested, but there's no harm is asking! You should try and have a bit of money on you when you go on the action for this reason.

6.2 What you could be charged with

Criminal damage - section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971: You commit this offence if you, without lawful excuse, destroy or damage property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage the property or being reckless as to whether the property would be damaged or destroyed.

Where the value of the damage is less than £5,000 then the case must be heard in the Magistrate's Court and the maximum sentence is three months in prison or a fine of up to £2,500 and a compensation order of up to £5,000. Where the value of the damage is greater than £5,000 then you can choose whether the case is heard in the Magistrates or Crown Court; in the Crown Court the maximum sentence is ten years in prison or an unlimited fine and a compensation order equivalent to the amount of the damage.

Breach of the peace or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace: This is not a criminal offence but a civil wrong. It occurs when an act is done or threatened to be done which either actually harms, or is likely to harm, or puts someone in fear of harm, to themselves, to others or to property. It must be characterised by violence or threat of violence. This violence can come either from you or from others reacting to your actions. The only possible penalty is a bind over which is not a criminal conviction: see later for more about bind-overs.

Obstructing a police officer (section 51 of the Police Act 1964): You commit this offence if you resist or wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of their duty e.g. ignoring their instructions, stopping them doing something, deliberately misleading them. This is not an arrestable offence but you may well be arrested for it (giving you a chance to sue the police later on) as it is a convenient means of removing protesters from the site of an action. Maximum sentence 1 month in prison or fine of £1,000.

Public Order Act offences: The Public Order Act 1986 lists a series of progressively more serious offences, the least serious and most regularly used is section 5 (disorderly conduct). To be guilty of this you must have used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or displayed a sign which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. Maximum sentence fine of £1,000.

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 sections 68 and 69: To have committed aggravated trespass (section 68) you must have trespassed on land (not highways or footpaths) in the open air with the intention of disrupting or obstructing or intimidating someone from going about their lawful activity. Maximum sentence three months in prison or fine of up to £2,500.

To have committed an offence under section 69 you must have refused to obey the instructions of the police to leave land on which they believe you will commit aggravated trespass. Maximum sentence three months in prison or fine of up to £2,500.

6.3 Preparing for trial

Your affinity group should gather the names of witnesses or their statements at the time of your arrest and the group should speak to a sympathetic solicitor before the action who can then be on standby in case they are needed to attend the police station. You will already have prepared a statement about your intention to do the action which will be part of the evidence in your case. We recommend that you also write a further statement about the action and the circumstances of your arrest as soon after your arrest as possible.

6.3.1 To represent yourself, or not?

There are many advantages to representing yourself in court rather than having a solicitor act on your behalf. For one thing your motivations are different and this will have a bearing on the outcome; a legal representative will be aiming primarily to get you let off; this is all well and good but they may want to leave out some of your most valuable evidence in order to avoid trying the Magistrate's patience, or they may try to win your case on a legal technicality. If you represent yourself you can bring all your evidence about the dangers of GM food as part of a legal defence. You might also want to run a defence based on morals rather than the law, in which case you are likely to lose on the legal front but you might be upholding a principle that is more important than law. A legal representative cannot do this. In addition you may not be eligible for Legal Aid, but cannot afford, or do not wish, to spend money on a solicitor. Defending yourself can also be very empowering for yourself and inspiring for those who are supporting you in court. You don't have to be an eloquent speaker to be able to carry it off; being obviously nervous or vulnerable does not detract from your sincerity and sometimes the most inspiring defences have been very simple. Conversely, a legal defence can be very "clever", yet lack passion and conviction. It is important however to be aware that a Magistrate may not let you present a full moral defence if s/he does not want you to use the courtroom as a soapbox.

McKenzie friends: Unrepresented defendants are entitled to bring a friend into court to help and advise. These people, known as McKenzie friends, need not be legally qualified. Some Magistrates are still unaware of the right to have a friend in court to help you and you should make sure that you go into court with details of the relevant Court of Appeal cases- McKenzie v McKenzie,1970 and Regina v Leicester City Justices ex parte Barrow, 1991. Your adviser can take notes and discretely interrupt you in order to help you with cross examination of prosecution witnesses. The friend is not allowed to conduct the cross examination or to address the court on your behalf.

For an excellent (and inspiring) guide to defending yourself, read "How to defend yourself in court" by Michael Randle (see appendix 7.3). Also talk with other people who have defended themselves as they may have some very good tips - ask us for contacts.

If you want a solicitor to represent you, you will have to formally instruct them, which means tell them that you want them to run a legal defence on your behalf. You can instruct either the Solicitor who saw you at the police station or any other criminal solicitor. Contact them as soon as you are released from custody.

6.3.2 Defences

We have at least two potential defences:
  1. We believe we are acting with lawful excuse (section 5(2)(b) of the Criminal Damage Act 1971) as (a) we believe we are destroying GM crops in order to protect property (neighbouring land and crops) belonging to another person, (b) we believe the property to be in immediate need of protection, because of the risks of horizontal gene transfer (see section 3) and (c) we believe that our act (pulling up the GM crops) in order to protect the neighbouring property is reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.

  2. We believe that it is the companies which have planted GM crops who have committed an offence. It is a defence under section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 to use reasonable force to prevent a crime. This is the defence which was used successfully by Seeds of Hope Ploughshares. In that case the damage caused by the women to the Hawk jets was argued to be reasonable force in the prevention of the crime of genocide. In our case we can argue that destruction of the GM crops is reasonable force in order to prevent the farmer/companies committing the offence of criminal damage themselves. We can argue that the farmer/company is being reckless as to the risk of damage to neighbouring farm land, animals and crops as a consequence of horizontal gene transfer from the release sites.

These defences are untested at present but we may be acquitted.

6.3.3 Evidence and Disclosure

If you have instructed a solicitor, you should have a meeting with them to discuss your case. Your solicitor will send off to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for "advance disclosure" this is a dossier of the CPS case against you. This will include all the prosecution witness statements. If the police have a video of your arrest and want to show it in court, then you are entitled to see it in advance of the hearing. You should either be sent a copy, or will need to go to the police station to see it. If you are representing yourself then you will need to do all of this yourself.

You will need to gather your own evidence and prepare your defence. If you are being represented, then your solicitor should do all this under your instruction. Make sure they do it thoroughly. Give the solicitor the addresses of any witnesses so they can contact them to interview and prepare them for the trial. Find any videos and photos which may help your case; but be aware that some photos (e.g. of you decontaminating the release site) could also be adopted by the prosecution and may over-ride the possibility of you using your personal statement. The genetiX snowball office will be able to provide you with a skeleton defence to the charge of criminal damage and advise you on the outcome of other snowballers' court cases as the campaign grows.

In the magistrates court a solicitor can present your case, but most cannot in a Crown Court, and so they have to instruct a barrister. Your solicitor may also instruct a barrister for your magistrates court case, especially if they are overloaded with cases. Barristers are usually more eloquent, but won't have an in-depth knowledge of your case. Ask your solicitor for a "Conference" (meeting) with your barrister before the case so you can brief them on what you want them to say.

6.3.4. Going to court

If you are bailed or summonsed to court, your first appearance is known as the "plea hearing". Here you will enter your plea - guilty or not guilty. If you live some distance from the court you can often get the clerk to enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf at this hearing so that you don't need to attend. If you plead guilty, they may sentence you immediately. If you plead not guilty, a date will be set for the next court hearing (the pre- trial review). If you are in any doubt, plead not guilty as you can always change it later. If you plead guilty you may get a lesser sentence (and have to pay less prosecution costs) than if you plead not guilty and are convicted.

Courts, and the legal ritual, are designed to intimidate the defendant. If you have never been to court before, it may be worth popping in before your trial to listen in and get a feel for what goes on and help you feel more confident about your own case. There is always a Public Gallery in Magistrates Courts (usually just a row of chairs along a wall) and you are perfectly entitled to sit in. The Magistrates have had no legal training, and will have a Clerk to advise them on the law. There are usually three magistrates. You may, however, especially for cases which contain a lot of technical legal argument, get a Stipendary Magistrate (often known as a "Stipe"). These are ex-barristers or solicitors with extensive legal knowledge. They sit by themselves with the Clerk.

The Magistrates will sit up on a platform, which is designed to make you feel small. You will be in a defendant's box, and your solicitor (if you have one) sits at a bench at the front, with the CPS lawyer. You should ask to sit with your solicitor or if you are representing yourself ask to sit at the front bench so that you do not have to juggle all the papers in your lap. Magistrates and the CPS will speak in "legalese" and talk to you as if you know everything about the legal system. The best advice we can give is not to be intimidated by it and to ask them to explain in plain English if you do not understand.

The Pre-trial review will be your next visit to the courts. This is when you and the CPS go through all the evidence, from each side, discuss any disputes, and list which witnesses to call. The intention of this is to streamline the trial and save time and expense. This is your opportunity to state your case as to why you should be able to call your witnesses e.g. expert witnesses to speak about GM crops and their health or environmental impacts. You may not be allowed to present some evidence or call one/all of your witnesses if the Court dismisses the evidence as "irrelevant".

6.3.5 Calling witnesses

You will need to decide which witnesses can best help your case. Examples are scientists, police officers, the farmer or farm workers, the biotech company, your legal/action observer, other people who saw what happened as well as character witnesses. If you call friendly witnesses you will be able to talk to them before the hearing and get an idea of what they will say in court and you can discuss the questions the CPS might put to them in cross examination. You may need to serve them with a witness summons if they are working, so that they can get time off work. If you call "hostile" witnesses you will need to serve them with a witness summons as otherwise they will have no legal obligation to attend the hearing. You will have no real idea of what they are going to say in court and they may play straight into the hands of the prosecution You may however be able to cross examine biotech company representatives and this may bring out some very interesting information, for example you could ask what safety tests they have carried out on this particular plant/gene combination or what specific allergy tests they have conducted.

6.3.6 Plea Bargaining

The CPS may try and do a deal with you. They may offer to drop a serious charge in return for you pleading guilty to a lesser one. This is "plea bargaining". They usually do it just before a court case, or on the actual day of the trial. Minor charges may be dropped in return for you accepting a bind-over (this is not a criminal conviction - see below). Plea bargains may be offered if they are not confident of their chance of getting a conviction; or they may offer you a "bind over" to reduce pressure on the court's time.

6.4 The Trial

Formal trials can be daunting, if you are not prepared, but the procedure is quite simple. Firstly, the prosecution gives a brief outline of their case, and the circumstances of your arrest. They then call their witnesses (usually the arresting officer and a few others), and examine them, by asking them questions about their evidence, under oath. After the prosecution has finished, your solicitor (or you, if you represent yourself) will get the chance to cross-examine them. This is your chance to discredit the witnesses and challenge their evidence against you. The prosecution then get a chance to re-examine.

After this, you or your solicitor could argue that there is "no case to answer", meaning that the prosecution do not have sufficient evidence to convict you, and invite the magistrates to throw the case out. If this is not accepted, you will then have the opportunity to go into the witness box and either present your case, or be examined by your solicitor. You could choose not to do this, if you think you might incriminate yourself by your own words or during cross-examination, or you may choose not to participate in the legal system if you think it is corrupt, but the magistrates may draw inferences if you do not go in the witness box. You will be asked to make an oath on the bible (or other "recognised" holy book), or make a non-religious affirmation to tell the truth. Afterwards the prosecution can cross-examine you. You can then be re-examined by your solicitor or make a further representation yourself. Keep calm and just reiterate the facts. You could ask for a break, although magistrates are less likely to grant this than a Crown Court Judge. Your witnesses are then called, one by one, to be examined by you, then cross-examined by the prosecution, and then re- examined by your side. Witnesses of fact, but not expert witnesses, have to sit outside until called into court to give evidence.

After this, the prosecution sums up their case then you sum up your case to the magistrates in what are known as closing speeches. Then the magistrates will probably adjourn, returning to give the verdict. If you win, you can apply for your costs (travel, witness costs, accommodation etc.).

Rowan Tilly asks policeman to arrest Monsanto,
the owners of the GM plants at Model Farm, Oxfordshire,
4th July, 1998. Photo Hugh Warwick

6.5 Sentencing

We don't know yet what the sentence is likely to be if you are found guilty. As the amount of decontamination will be fairly small we anticipate that Snowballers will be fined rather than receiving custodial sentences, but we cannot be certain. You may also have to pay the costs of the trial, between £330 to £3100 a day. The smaller your criminal record the lighter the penalty. With all offences, there is a maximum penalty set in place. This gives an indication of how serious the offence is, not what you are likely to get, so don't be too alarmed by the maximum.

If you are found guilty, the magistrate will probably sentence you immediately. You are allowed to make a statement in mitigation. This is your opportunity to explain how the consequences might impact on you and any dependants, or your job or financial circumstances, if you were given a heavy sentence. You can also point to your respectful and nonviolent behaviour as evidence of what a good person you are. If you want to appeal for a light sentence then you should have your mitigation prepared in advance. If the magistrate has been moved by your defence but has still found you guilty s/he may give you a light sentence. A way to demonstrate your protest at a verdict is to refuse to enter into any mitigation.

Absolute Discharges: This means that you still have a conviction but no separate penalty.

Bind-overs: You can be bound over even if you have not been found guilty of an offence. These are often offered to people charged with a Breach of the Peace before the hearing in order to save Court time. Magistrates also dole them out as a light punishment for other offences. A Binding-Over Order is an ancient power given to magistrates and has been left over from the Middle Ages. It is basically a promise that you "will be of good behaviour and will keep the Queen's Peace". This really means that you promise not to get arrested for a set time period (usually 6 or 12 months). If you do, and get convicted, you will forfeit a sum of money (usually around £100). A bind-over stays on your record but is not itself a criminal conviction. If you refuse to accept a bind-over, the magistrates have the power to send you to prison for up to 6 months. However, if you are imprisoned, you can agree to accept the bind-over at any time and get out of jail.

Fines: Despite the fact that maximum fines for the offences are high it is unlikely that Snowballers will receive such large fines. You will however need to be prepared for that possibility. Before the magistrates impose a fine you will be asked to fill in a form stating details of your income. If you are on the dole the Magistrates may order the fine to be paid by deduction of a sum of money, about £35[[check]] a week, directly from it. If you are working then they can contact your employer to deduct money and pay it to the Court on your behalf. We advise you to refuse to do this, if you are planning not to pay your fine, but please note it will constitute a contempt of court for which you might be further punished although we don't know of anyone who has had problems with this. See below for more information on non-payment of fines

Conditional Discharges: Magistrates are quite fond of these. If you are given one it means that if you get arrested again within a given time (usually 6 months to 2 years), and are subsequently convicted, you may be re-sentenced for the original offence.

Community Service and Custodial Sentences (Prison): If magistrates or a judge are considering a Community Service Order or a custodial sentence (sending you to prison), your case will be adjourned for a few weeks, for a probation officer to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report for the judge or Magistrates. It is unlikely but you may be remanded in custody during this time.

Community Service means that you will be ordered to do certain tasks for the community for a set time (20 to 240 hours). You have to consent to the order, which is supervised by the Probation Service. If you don't do it, you go back to court, and will probably get more hours added, or be sent to prison. There are usually some "environmental" and outdoors jobs which you could ask to do. You may meet some interesting people whilst doing it.

Going to prison is a big psychological step. There is a separate section on prison below.

July 30th 1998 outside the High Court. Court appearances
are a good media opportunity. Photo: Rob Todd

6.6 Injunctions and damages claims

'The moment when a feeling enters the body- is political. This touch is political'.
Adrienne Rich

Participation in the genetiX snowball campaign carries a risk of being injuncted or of having a claim for damages made against you. These are civil cases, not criminal. Injunctions and damages claims are used by government and corporations to intimidate and discourage people from exercising their right to protest. These types of legal proceedings have become known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. Court case preparation and court hearings are very time consuming. This time and energy drain could if you are not careful divert you from campaigning against GM plants. This is of course exactly what the corporations would want.

An injunction might ban you from entering onto certain test field sites, pulling up plants or encouraging others to do so. It is usually part of a larger case which includes a claim for damages. The claim for compensation by the company is likely to include a demand for the material value of the plants you have pulled up, but may also include claims for damage to commercial and business interests. For example a Monsanto damages claim against the five women who pulled up GM plants on the first snowball action claimed "damages for unlawful interference with business and commercial interests" and "damages for conspiracy". The threat of damages and court costs is used to drive a wedge between people with assets and those without.

The first thing you're likely to know about an injunction is when a burly agent of the court knocks on your door with a large bundle of paperwork (give us a ring and we'll put you in touch with someone who can help you make sense of them). These papers will include a summons to attend the court and they may also include an injunction order which has been made against you "ex- parte", this means in your absence. If an "ex-parte" injunction has been made against you the court will have set a hearing date (usually in 1-2 weeks time) to give you a chance to defend yourself against the injunction.

You can represent yourself in court, you could get legal representation from a friendly solicitor or barrister or you could have a MacKenzie friend (a knowledgeable unpaid legal advisor) to assist you. If you challenge the injunction and lose, you are likely to face large court costs. Another option is to negotiate with the company to agree terms for the injunction that you are happy with and stay out of court thus avoiding costs. If you ignore the Court hearing the company will get the injunction terms they want and probably also get court costs against you.

If you breach the terms of an injunction and evidence of this is obtained by the company then you may be served with committal papers which call you back to court. At this hearing the company may ask for your committal to prison. The judge decides on what, if any, sentence you should get. The maximum prison sentence is two years, although this is unlikely. You could also be given a suspended sentence, this means that you have to abide by the terms of the injunction or face that sentence plus an additional sentence for the second breach. You will also need to decide whether to defend the damages claim or not. We suggest that you contact the genetiX snowball office for an update on the case of the five women, and details of helpful solicitors.

You could of course avoid breaking an injunction order by focusing your attention on crops being developed by one of the other biotechnology companies. You might then acquire a string of injunction orders and damages claims.

These types of High Court cases are big campaign publicity opportunities. Big bully multinational corporations trying to silence nonviolent campaigners is a David and Goliath situation and a great press opportunity.

If you are planning to take nonviolent direct action against GM crops and you do have material assets it may be worth seeking legal advice on your options. Disposing of your assets into other people's names well before taking action may be enough, but there is a risk that the assets could still be recovered by the court. Moving assets once proceedings have started is much more risky. The safest course of action is to sell up everything and get cash which is untraceable.

6.7 Success

We might win, i.e. stop GM deliberate releases. You might win your court case. There will almost certainly be some successes, even if only minor ones, although our achievements may be quite difficult to measure. Success brings a heady spacey feeling, lots of adrenaline, lots of pressure and afterwards can be an anti- climax. Enjoy, but take care of yourself and each other.

Every snowball is a celebration

Thirs genetiX snowball action, Sunday 16th August 1998. Photo: Nick Cobbing