Hree Extinction Rebellion activists have been cleared over a 2019 stunt that saw them cause a 77-minute disruption on a train in central London.
The Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and former university lecturer Philip Kingston, 85, were unanimously acquitted by a jury at the Inner London Crown Court of disrupting the railways after their protest at Shadwell station on October 17, 2019 was done.
Mr Kingston affixed his hand to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train, while the Rev Parfitt and Father Newell climbed onto the roof and prayed for the planet shortly before 7 a.m.
Solicitor Mike Schwarz of the law firm Hodge Jones and Allen, representing the defense, said: “There is mounting evidence from the courts, and especially from the jury, that the public is taking on the climate crisis and there is an urgent need to focus on it. More seriously than government and business. This decision is part of this growing pattern.”
All three said they were greatly inspired by their Christian faith, while Mr Kingston said the future of his four grandchildren also inspired him to take part in the protest.
In what he said was an attempt to appeal to the public and government about the dangers of climate change and the actions of financial institutions that harm the planet, he stopped a train from a bank in the City of London financial district. targeted. ,
Some 15 trains were delayed or canceled but none got stuck in the tunnels.
This was partly because, according to activists, they had planned demonstrations to ensure there was no risk to public safety, including targeting a station above ground and 10 more Extinction Rebellion on stage. Activists were involved to ensure that violence did not break out.
Rev Parfitt after being found guilty by a district judge at the City of London Magistrates’ Court in February 2020 for refusing to comply with a police ban order preventing protesters from demonstrating at Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in London in April 2019 He vowed to continue the protest.
Friday’s ruling comes after four people were acquitted of criminal damage in Bristol’s case of toppling a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and throwing it into the harbour.
A 17th-century bronze monument was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in the city on 7 June 2020, and those responsible were acquitted after an 11-day trial at Bristol Crown Court on 5 January.
Last year saw a string of sentencing in the Old Bailey, where a judge urged the Crown Prosecution Service to review its response to protesters’ appeals against convicts for obstructing a highway in light of a Supreme Court ruling in June Did.
Judge Mark Dennis QC said in August that there was a “fundamental problem”, saying the Crown had not “understood” the impact of the ruling or a “basic human rights point that has been around for too long”.
The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of four protesters, Christopher Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Joanna Frau and Nora Ziegler, who were accused of obstructing a highway in 2017 after locking themselves together outside an arms fair .
In their decision, Lord Hamblen and Lord Stephens said: “There must be some degree of tolerance for disruption of normal life, including the right to freedom of expression or the freedom of peaceful assembly caused by traffic disruption.”
And in April last year, six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of criminal damages to Shell’s London headquarters, despite a judge at Southwark Crown Court instructing that they had no defense in law.
Earlier on Friday, six activists who blocked a motorway were released from prison as part of a series of protests by Extinction Rebellion offshoot Insulate Britain.
And former Paralympic athlete James Brown, who was sentenced to 12 months in prison after superglueing himself to the roof of a British Airways plane at London City airport to draw attention to the climate crisis, has cut his sentence to four. The month was cut. Appeal Judge.