Extinction rebel activists ‘saved’ by jury over overcrowded train protest

Extinction rebel activists who were cleared over a 2019 stunt that saw them disrupt overcrowded trains in central London said they felt “right” by the jury’s decision – and Hope this inspires others to take similar action.

Everend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and former university lecturer Philip Kingston, 85, are unanimously acquitted at Inner London Crown Court for disrupting railways after their protest at Shadwell station on October 17, 2019 went.

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.

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Fathers Martin Newell and Reverend Sue Parfitt said they hope the jury’s decision will inspire others to act on the climate emergency (Victoria Jones/PA)

Speaking outside the court on Friday, Reverend Parfitt told the PA news agency he thought the verdict showed the protest was the “right thing to do.”

She said: “It’s amazing that the jury saw the bigger picture, that the court justified our action, and we hope that this, in some small way, inspires others to realize that sacrifices can be made.” , especially by people of faith.

“We have to do everything possible to enable people on this earth to change direction so that we can live differently and we can live better.

“We are in an extreme and serious emergency, both for our civilization and our human and non-human species on the planet, and we have to take action from the governments of the world.”

Father Newell said he was prepared for further action and would risk going to jail in the future.

He told the PA: “I’m not sure if disrupting public transport is the right thing to do at this time, but would I risk going to jail? Absolutely.”

Mr Kingston, the third defendant acquitted on Friday, appeared in court via video link.

Mike Schwarz, solicitor for the law firm Hodge Jones and Allen, which represented the defendants, said: “There is mounting evidence—from courts—and especially from juries—that the public is taking the climate crisis and the increasingly urgent need to focus on It has been taken on this much more seriously than the 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 targeted a train one stop away from a bank in the City of London financial district. Did.

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Former university lecturer Philip Kingston strapped himself to a DLR train (Max Cara/Twitter/PA)

Some 15 trains were delayed or canceled but none got stuck in the tunnels.

This was partly because, according to activists, they had planned the demonstration to ensure that there was no threat to public safety by taking certain measures, including targeting a station above ground and a platform to ensure violence. But 10 more extirpated rebel activists are involved. erupt

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 nine days after four men were acquitted of criminal damages over the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston, which was later dumped in port in Bristol.

The 17th-century bronze monument was pulled down on 7 June 2020 during a Black Lives Matter protest in the city, for which those responsible were taken over on 5 January after an 11-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

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 properly “understood” 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 .

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Former Paralympic athlete James Brown, 56, 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 by Judges (Extinction Rebellion/PA)

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 damage to Shell’s London headquarters, despite a judge telling jurors at Southwark Crown Court they had no defense at 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.