John Mayer

Not long after launching the Nuclear Security (Scotland) Bill 2007, John was touched to be asked to act as Counsel to Greenpeace.

John Mayer and the Artic Sunrise

As a long-term member he had followed the brave exploits of the young activists who regularly risk their lives and freedom in order to bear witness to environmental destruction and national acts of aggression, such as torture and genocide and then to let the world know about it. Now John could get stuck in. As legal counsel, John's job is to advise by way of oral and written Opinion and then to act in court for his clients.

Greenpeace UK took a decision to draw the world's attention to certain appalling acts of barbarism being committed by the British Government. The 'Replacement of Trident Consultation Period' announced in late 2006 was, like the Blair government's similar previous announcement on Nuclear Power Stations, a sham. Indeed their left hand did not seem to know what the right was doing when Gordon Brown announced the definite replacement of Trident in his 2006 Mansion House Speech. The Blair government would not send a single Minister into a real debate about replacement of Trident, so many organisations initiated their own debates.

In particular on 29 January 2007 the United Nations Association held a major Conference in the Scottish Parliament, at which John was a keynote Speaker. The day was a big success, with Lord Hannay, former UK Ambassador to the United Nations in New York speaking last. The BBC and many other world-wide news organisations ran the story at the top of their cycle.

Greenpeace took a different angle. The ship Arctic Sunrise was despatched from the arctic to the beautiful West Highlands of Scotland with a mission. That was, to raise the awareness of people all over the world to the dangers of the recklessness about to happen in the name of the British people: namely a huge Breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by replacing Britain's fleet of Trident ThermoNuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction. In typical Greenpeace fashion, on 10 February 2007, young Greenpeace members and volunteers drew all 900 tonnes of the Arctic Sunrise into Leith Docks in Edinburgh. They opened the ship to children, contributors and the Press. But the Members of the Scottish Parliament from the SNP, Green and Scottish Socialist Parties were given a little extra special message - get to grips with the Mayer ~ Matheson Bill and vote it into law!

A few days later the good ship Arctic Sunrise sailed for the West Highlands of Scotland. She sailed right up through Rhu Narrows to Faslane - home of the British Trident ThermoNuclear Submarine Fleet - one of the most heavily guarded places on earth. After a day of prayer by eminent clergy, including Cardinal O'Brien, the Arctic Sunrise manoeuvred over near the base and let the most basic of freedoms begin - protesting against one's own government for doing reckless acts which endanger the world. The young Greenpeace activists were in fast RIBs and canoes. Their aim was to put banners of protest onto facilities in the sea which represented Trident, take their picture and send the pictures to the world. Though often very young, the skill and knowledge of the crew is second to none. Accordingly over 100 TV stations around the world covered the event, hundreds of newspapers wrote it up and countless thousands of websites ran the story.
The Ministry of Defence Police eventually boarded the ship and arrested everyone on board.

Afterwards, only one man was privileged to be charged with the duty of getting Waldemar Wichman, The Captain of Arctic Sunrise and every member of the crew and the volunteers out of jail. Oh, and he also got the ship out of the clutches of the Ministry of Defence in time for its big event in the Thames with Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone- that man was Counsel to Greenpeace, John Mayer.