Judge Wright's ruling on John McDonnell's witness statement
In that statement, he [John McDonnell] talks about a number of things, including his views over the development of 4th terminal at Heathrow. His opposition to further expansion, based on the strongly held views of many constituents, living in surrounding villages. The concerns of local residents about the building of a third runway, for a variety of reasons, including the impact of increased air pollution. He talks about the deleterious effect of the expansion of the airport on climate change and confirms he has campaigned against further expansion of the airport.
It talks about a High Court action in 2010 , which led to recommendations and promises from planning inspectors. He says that promises made have not been observed. He gives opinion on the debate about expansion of Heathrow and talks about the benefits of direct action, which he says are many, although it may cause short term inconvenience.
In order to allow his evidence to be given, I have to say if it is relevant.
[Defence barrister] Mr Chada has argued that it is relevant because during cross examination of [defendant] Ms Strickland, [Prosecution barrister] Mr McGhee asked a number of questions which were designed to establish that there were other courses of action open to her, including standing for elected office in order to use influence the democratic process, in order to achieve her goals. Mr Chada's case is, in effect, that Mr McDonnell provides evidence that the democratic process has not worked and therefore it is relevant to establish the necessity and proportionality of the action taken.
I have endeavoured to persuade Mr McGhee simply to agree some Section 10 admissions. But he rightly points out that admissibility is entirely dependent upon relevance.
What I have to decide is whether the defendants genuinely believed that their actions were necessary to prevent death or serious injury. And, if the answer to that is yes, that objectively their actions were necessary and proportionate to achieve that end. Nothing in Mr McDonnell's statement assists me in my answer to these questions – it only assists me to the extent that I would need convincing of the necessity to take action on the basis that the defendants felt they had exhausted all other avenues for a particular purpose, not in relation to the threat to life or limb.
I can say that I will find that each of the defendants genuinely felt exasperated that their very considerable efforts to draw the attention of those in authority to the very real threat that climate change poses have not been effective. I am therefore not going to to allow Mr McDonnell to give live evidence.
I would say to the defendants, in respect of what you wanted him to say, you've already won.