Otaki peace protester Adrian Leason says the Government’s motive in pressing a claim for $1.2million against the ‘Waihopai 3’ is purely political.
He says the Government knew before it started a High Court claim that the three men — he, Father Peter Murnane and Sam Land — had not much more than the ‘loose change in their pockets.’
Last week the three lost an appeal against the High Court judgment. Before the High Court case, the Government itself lost a case for criminal damage heard by a jury, after the three punctured a communications dome at the spy base in 2008.
Mr Leason and his wife Shelley run a small organic farm at Otaki; and he also works part-time as a primary school teacher.
Family of seven
They have seven children — six boys and a girl — aged from four to 17. Adrian says he is lucky his wife fully supports the peace protest, especially as she and the children stand to suffer when the authorities take action against him.
‘Taxpayers’ money spent on case’
Mr Leason also says ‘the Government is spending a considerable amount of the taxpayers’ money on the case.
He says it is trying to present a picture of the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau ) as being as ‘pure as the driven snow.’
But the peace protesters had been able to present evidence that ‘the GCSB was involved in five distinct areas of criminal offending.’
And, he says, they had affidavits from experts in the field proving this. This meant, under law, the Government had forfeited the right to sue.
But Mr Leason and his two fellow campaigners now face a $1.2 million claim for damaging the Waihopai spy base in Marlborough.
Religious and philosophical motives
The three men campaign from a deeply-held mixture of religious and philosophical objections to war — and they claim the Waihopai base has been implicated in the illegal war in Iraq among other illegal activities
Mr Leason is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Pukekaraka Church in Otaki, and he says on his website he’s “an active participant with the dis-organisation known as ‘The Catholic Worker.”
He adds: “In the past few years I have worked as a Senior Advisor with Child, Youth & Family in Wellington after my family and I spent three years in Asia, living in a slum helping with community development.”
In 2008, Mr Leason with Father Peter Murnane and farmer Samuel Land, entered the Waihopai spy base as part of a ‘Swords into ploughshares’ peace protest.
They said the base was contributing to the second Iraq war — and their protest was aimed at exposing it.
Acquitted on criminal charges,
In 2010 a jury acquitted the three on criminal charges, but the Crown then took civil action.
The NZ Attorney-General filed trespass charges and sought the cost of repairs to the facility, put at $1.2 million, winning its case in the High Court, but the peace trio entered an appeal.
The Appeal Court last week dismissed the appeal by the protestors, and made orders for costs against them.
But it doesn’t appear any of the three have the means to pay the costs awarded b y the Court.
Dominican friar Father Murnane, who is in his early 70s, says he hasn’t had a bank account for 50 years.
In May he said anyone demanding compensation from him would have to grab him by the ankles and shake him to find any money.
He had returned from the Solomon Islands, where he teaches novices, for the appeal hearing.