9th October 2000
European Human Rights Issues Set Aside
On the opening day of the hearing in a busy Edinburgh High Court of the Lord Advocate’s Reference of the “Trident Three” ruling in Greenock last year, the Crown has begun to put its case, arguing that the three woman did not have an adequate defence to the charge of malicious damage, on which they were acquitted.
The panel of judges have decided to set aside for the time being consideration of the issues raised by the respondents under the European Convention on Human Rights. They have opted to go into the main arguments immediately and to deal with ECHR issues as they specifically arise. Although again refusing to have the proceedings recorded they have indicated that there will be scope for addressing key issues not covered by the Lord Advocate’s four questions.
For the Crown the Advocate Depute has argued that to establish a charge of malicious mischief the prosecution does not require to prove a spiteful motive for the act. By this he hopes to undermine one plank of the Greenock defence, i.e., that the women had acted without malice. He has also maintained that the defence of necessity, while applicable in principle, was unsound at Greenock because, in his view, there was no immediate danger to justify the women’s action.
A Trident Ploughshares spokesperson said: The approach being taken by the Crown confirms our view that the Reference is an appeal by the back door and a way of putting the women on trial for a second time. On the other hand this gives a better chance for the real issue to be addressed – the right for ordinary citizens to try to prevent innocent people from being murdered.”