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Charges dropped over Sizewell B blockade

PUBLISHED: 15:48 05 January 2011

TWO anti-nuclear campaigners who locked themselves together outside Sizewell B nuclear power plant walked free from court yesterday thanks to a prosecution mistake - and pledged to carry on their protests.

Andreas Speck and Ian Mills were due to start their trial for aggravated trespass after they blockaded an access road to the plant, south of Southwold, in February.

However, their trial collapsed yesterday after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) did not offer any evidence because of a procedural error in the men’s charges.

Despite having the trial looming over them for the last 10 months, Mr Speck, 46 from London, and Mr Mills, 45 from Chippenham, Wiltshire, said they would carry on taking action against government and EDF plans to build a Sizewell C power plant.

The men were arrested for trespass on February 22 after they locked themselves together with two other people as they took part in an eight-hour blockade at an access road.

Yesterday, at Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, the trespass trial collapsed as Judge David Cooper ruled the CPS could not amend the charges.

Mr Speck and Mr Mills had been charged with a form of trespass that involved them failing to leave land after being instructed to by a senior officer. However, at the start of trial, the prosecution wanted to amend the charge to just aggravated trespass, which they should have been charged with originally.

The court heard that there was no evidence the men had been asked to leave by a senior officer.

And Judge Cooper criticised the CPS for failing to make a change in the charges, despite there being seven previous court hearings when an amendment should have been made.

He said: “This should have been picked up a long time ago.”

Judge Cooper also said it would not be in the interests of justice for another adjournment to be to granted to see if new charges could be made against Mr Speck and Mr Mills as the affiar had been going on for too long.

He also heard that Mr Mills, who had mental health problems, was suffering from stress.

After the case both men pledged to continue their fight against a government drive to build nuclear power plants to help combat climate change and provide low carbon energy.

Mr Speck said: “Of course I am relieved. I never denied we blockaded the site, but we were never asked to leave by a senior officer.

“I have been pursuing my defence over the months on the basis we were not directed to leave at any point.

“We are going to carry on our fight and focus all of our energy on Sizewell and EDF. We think the government nuclear policy is flawed and new plants are not needed.”

February’s blockade, which was described as good natured in court, was organised by Stop Nuclear Power Network as a protest against a government nuclear power plant consultation

Two other people, a 65-year-old woman from Wales and a 23-year-old from London, were arrested at the demonstration and pleaded guilty in April to the same charges Mr Speck and Mr Mills faced.

In November, power plant operator EDF said its plans for Sizewell C would create up to 900 jobs and be worth £100m to the local economy.

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