The photograph submitted by Larkin, clearly showing that he is not in the road
Today in Helensburgh District Court Anti-Trident activist Brian Larkin was acquitted of a charge of breach of the peace, which has been brought against him in relation to his taking part in a blockade of the Faslane Naval Base, home port to Britain's nuclear weapon submarines, on 8 February this year.
Larkin, who represented himself in court, submitted that he had "no case to answer", a plea which is possible under Scots Law. Such a plea can only succeed if there is insufficient evidence to convict the defendant of the offence under which he has been indicted, or of any other offence of which he could be convicted.
Larkin argued that while the Crown always has an obligation to demonstrate the facts of an offense it charges a person with having committed, in this case it had a particular obligation as he was one of only 47 people who were being prosecuted out of 950 who had been arrested on the same charge and in similar circumstances since the start of the Faslane 365 campaign on 1 October 2006.
He went on to argue that the evidence offered by two police constables was conflicting, and that there was significant doubt as to its backing of the specific charge: that Larkin "did lie in the road", and had thereby caused a breach of the peace.
Both police officers claimed that Larkin had been lying in the road. One claimed he had been lying at the end of a line of people who were chained together; the other claimed he was second from the end of the line.
In cross examination Larkin presented one of the police officers with a photograph of the action, which clearly showed that he had been lying on the pavement. The officer stated that he did not recognise the picture as being of the incident in question, to which Larkin responded that the court should not doubt the veracity of the photograph, since he was "an honest person", a fact which "should be obvious to the court" since he had "offered himself in many cases of civil disobedience".
Larkin went on to point out that he was not denying that he was present at the incident, or that he was intending to prevent traffic from entering Faslane, but simply that the evidence offered by the Crown was insufficient to back up the charge he was facing.
The Procurator Fiscal, prosecuting, argued in turn that the evidence offered by the police showed that Larkin had been present at the incident, and that both police officers agreed that Larkin "did lie in the road". He also stated that the photograph offered by Larkin was not dated, and noone had testified as to its representing the incident.
Justice Fraser Gillis adjourned to consider the arguments he had heard, and returned to acquit Larkin, agreeing that the Crown evidence was insufficient and that Larkin therefore had no case to answer.
This was the fourth case to be concluded for offences committed by Anti-Trident activists taking part in Faslane 365, a year-long nonviolent blockade of Faslane. The three previous defendants were all found guilty and fined. Brian Larkin is next due to appear in court on 22 October, on a further charge of breach of the peace relating to Faslane 365.
The Faslane 365 "Big Blockade" will take place on Monday 1 October.