AN eco warrior who trashed genetically modified crops is challenging a court’s decision to make him pay nearly £4,000 in compensation.
Hector Christie, 51, says he is prepared to go to jail if that is what it takes to make his last big stand over GM crops.
Mr Christie of Tapeley Park, Instow, scattered organic seed and pulled up trial crops at Rothamsted Research at Harpenden in Herts.
When he appeared at Central Herts Magistrates’ Court in St Albans on FridayAug24 he brought with him a GM free potato plant and two potatoes grown on his farm.
He told magistrates he had carried out the protest because Rothamsted would not debate the dangers of GM with him.
He said: “This is why I have done it. I won’t be doing it anymore. I would love to have a proper debate.”
Jahangir Ali, for the prosecution, said Mr Christie climbed over a fence at the research centre at 7.50am on May 20.
“In the field a crop of GM wheat, valued at £750,000 was being grown. He scattered seed and started pulling up crops.
Mr Ali said the defendant told a security guard: “Calm down I am not running away. I am not crazy. I am not going to kill you. My job is done.”
Later he said: “You should not protect this experiment. It is a waste of time and money.”
The police were called and anti GM crop fliers were found in his car.
Mr Christie, the eldest son of Sir George and Lady Mary Christie who run Glyndebourne opera, pleaded guilty to criminal damage.
Tom Stevens, for the defence, said Mr Christie accepted he caused the criminal damage but did not accept the valuation.
He said: “He is a man of impeccable character and is sincere in his beliefs. He remains committed to ensuring this debate remains alive.
“He did what he did because he is motivated by a strong social conscious. The bedrock of his belief is biodiversity.”
Magistrates were handed character references from Labour politician and former minister Michael Meacher and writer George Monbiot.
Mr Meacher said: “The scattering of the seed was meant to be symbolic. I don’t believe he intended to cause serious damage.”
Magistrates fined him £350, ordered him to pay a £15 victim surcharge, £85 costs and £3,850 compensation to Rothamsted.
Mr Christie told the Journal after the hearing that he will pay the court costs and cover the damage he caused, but he said this amount will be no-where near the £3,850 ordered.
He said: “They claimed I pulled between 500 and 600 plants up but I would have had to have been Superman to do that in the three minutes I had.
“I pulled two or three after scattering the organic seed and a couple of leaves.
“I am not a vandal. I wasn’t planning on pulling any crops but there was security running around outside screaming and about 20 police. It was like something out of Starsky and Hutch. I hadn’t slept and wasn’t really thinking.
“My point was to prove that there are alternatives and there has been no long term independent testing to see if it is safe to eat or not so to me it’s still very much Frankenstein food.
“I know that it could land me inside and I am prepared.
“I’ll never have an opportunity to do something like this again. I’m on the radar. This was my last big direct action and I’ll do whatever it takes to follow it through.”
In the past Mr Christie has dressed up as a GM potato in Germany and as a priest at a G8 summit in Genoa.
He said: “The system is absurd. I am not a bad person or a dangerous person. I am passionate about this but I get treated like a terrorist.
“I have been labelled a national domestic extremist and it is a badge I will wear with pride.”