Peter will be using his ecological skills as an expert witness in helping sentence the Chief Executives of two fictional oil companies on 31 March for major environmental destruction, in a world-first legal process. Top lawyers including Michael Mansfield QC will take part in the mock sentencing at the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex.
Peter Smith, Chief Executive of the Canterbury based Wildwood Trust said:
"It is a great honour to have been chosen to represent the animals affected by the proposed 'Ecocide' crime. In reality all around us we are committing the most atrocious crimes of 'ecocide' and the culprits, many financed by the banks and financial institutions of the city of London, are growing rich when they should either confront their crimes and make restitution or face the full justice of the law"
"I will be helping these fictitious big bosses understand the destruction their actions inflict on nature and what we can do to prevent it. It will also be my proposal in the process of restorative justice that it is possible to have a thriving economy, employment and a healthy environment through a simple change in our taxation system. The simple process of transferring taxes from incomes and commerce to the use of land and natural resources will solve the majority of our crimes against nature. This will stimulate the switch from a stagnating economy with massive monopoly income for those that control land and natural resources to a thriving economy that destroys natural monopolies, seeking out technologies that value nature, and at the same time does not penalise hard work and commerce with taxes. Such a system will put a real value on nature and land, saving its natural wealth for our future generations."
At a mock trial at the UK Supreme Court in September, the two CEOs were found guilty of the crime of Ecocide, a new law that has been proposed to the United Nations covering mass destruction of ecosystems. The law itself would be revolutionary, imprisonment would be the last resort, the punishment would focus on deterring organisations from committing the crime again.
This sentencing is also unique in bringing the head of a corporation face to face with those affected by their company's destructive practices. Kent based Wildwood Trust's own chief executive will be representing the animals and habitats affected, most importantly the 320 species of migratory birds that are having their habitat destroyed based on real-world oil extraction in the Canadian tar sands.
One of the two fictional CEOs, Robert Bannerman, has admitted responsibility for his crimes since being found guilty and will take part in a process called restorative justice. Through dialogue the restorative meeting will attempt to find a positive way forward to repair the harm caused - accepting business has a responsibility but going beyond simply fines or a prison sentence.
The other oil company Chief Executive, John Tench, has refused to admit to his crimes and will be sentenced in the normal way.
Lawrence Kershen QC, Chair of the Restorative Justice Council, will facilitate the restorative justice process: "One of these individuals has now accepted responsibility for what his company did, and he and the victims have agreed to have a dialogue. I hope that this restorative justice process will offer new ways to address corporate crimes by bringing all the parties together and seeking to repair the harm done to the victims."
Simon Hamilton, Chairman of the Hamilton Group, co-organisers of the event: "The mock trial at the Supreme Court allowed a forensic examination of how the law of Ecocide would work in practice and proved that this proposed law is valid. The ethical and moral case for making Ecocide a crime must now be a priority for decision-makers in Government and business throughout the world."
Professor Todd Landman, Director at the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution, also co-organising the event added: "The Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution is excited to host this event and to show how the process of restorative justice can serve as a model for resolving conflicts between multinational corporations and the wide range of their victims. At a time when the world is demanding more accountability for corporations, this event provides a great example of how restorative justice works."
This landmark event is open to the public and press and will also be broadcast live online at www.idcr.org.uk/ecocide-trial-the-sentence There will be a series of debates and speakers discussing issues raised in the restorative justice process. The hearing itself will take place after representations by Prosecuting Barrister Michael Mansfield QC and Defence Barrister Adam Hiddleston to the Judge. Lawrence Kershen QC, Chair of the Restorative Justice Council, will lead the restorative justice process.
The sentencing event on 31 March is being jointly organised by The Hamilton Group and the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution.
After the sentencing takes place, a press conference will be held, provisionally scheduled for 5.00pm/17.00 British Summer Time (4.00pm/16.00 GMT) at the event and online through a live video link. The confirmed time and details of how to join online will be available nearer the time at www.idcr.org.uk/ecocide-trial-the-sentence
- Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution: University of Essex press firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)1206 872400