A local Extinction Rebellion (XR) protester has successfully challenged the criminal charge that resulted from her participation in the ‘Spring Rebellion’ campaign in Brisbane.
Byron Shire resident Nada Loiterton was charged with contravening a police direction on August 6 after she and around 200 XR protesters swarmed the intersection of William and Margaret Streets in the Brisbane CBD, and she then refused to move off the road when directed to do so by police.
But Ms Loiterton had the charge dismissed on November 27 in the Queensland Magistrate’s Court after her legal team successfully argued that she was participating in an ‘authorised assembly’ under the Peaceful Assembly Act (1992).
‘This is a great outcome – a small victory, but a significant one,’ Ms Loiterton said. ‘I just want to give a huge thank you to my legal team.
‘They did an amazing job, and they did it for free.’
Leading Ms Loiterton’s defence was former Queensland Attorney General Dean Wells, who oversaw the introduction of the Peaceful Assembly Act when he was a minister back in 1992.
Mr Wells, who now works as a barrister in private practice, successfully argued that the protest on August 6 was an authorised assembly based on the fact that a notice of intention to conduct it had been served on the Queensland Police Commissioner more than five days beforehand.
The court heard that the Police Commissioner had sought to have the protester’s application dismissed, but that this attempt had been unsuccessful.
Once it had been established that that the protest was in fact authorised, it remained for Mr Wells and his team to establish that Ms Loiterton was in the location where it was supposed to take place. This seemingly simple task absorbed a number of hours of legal argument. However, Magistrate Noel Nunan eventually found in favour of Ms Loiterton, determining that she was ‘substantially’ part of the authorised assembly.
‘I am satisfied that she is substantially complying with the condition as to place, even if she was 10 metres north of the intersection on Margaret Street,’ Mr Nunan said.
‘She is therefore entitled to legal immunity and I find her not guilty, and the charge is dismissed.’
The next major Extinction Rebellion protest is expected to take place in Brisbane in the next two weeks.