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Greenpeace activists cleared of damaging UK power plant

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Chris Radburn/PA Wire URN:6295287 (Press Association via AP Images)

(Read caption) Greenpeace protesters (from left) Ben Stewart, Huw Williams, Tim Hewke, Emily Hall, Will Rose, and Kevin Drake stand outside Maidstone Crown Court in Kent before facing charges of criminal damage and aggravated trespass after they attempted to close down Kingsnorth power station. The six activists were subsequently found not guilty.

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A British court cleared six Greenpeace activists Monday of causing more than $50,000 of criminal damage to a coal-fired power plant. The court ruled that, by shutting down the plant, the activists were preventing greater property damage from climate change.

Five of the activists scaled the 650-foot smokestack at Kingsnorth power station with the intention of painting "Gordon bin it" on it  (that would be British English for "Prime Minister Gordon Brown, throw it out"). They got as far as writing "Gordon" before someone climbed up there to serve them a court injunction.

The activists argued that they possessed a "lawful excuse" for trying to shut the plant down, because they were trying to prevent the coal plant from causing greater property damage around the world by way of global warming. An example of lawful excuse, as cited by the prosecution and quoted in a Greenpeace blog, would be breaking a window to rescue a child from a burning car.

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