From tomorrow: XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook on trial for £27.5k window-breaking at UK’s Department for Transport - Extinction Rebellion UK

From tomorrow: XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook on trial for £27.5k window-breaking at UK’s Department for Transport

Update 20.7.2023:

Update on the trial of Dr Gail Bradbrook

There has been a pattern in recent climate protector trials where defendants are told they don’t have a defence in law, that anything they want to say in their defence is inadmissible and irrelevant and that they can’t inform the jury of the jury’s right to make decisions on their conscience. Moreover, they are threatened with imprisonment, and sometimes even imprisoned, if they do.

On Tuesday the jury was dismissed and the trial aborted. Retrial set for week commencing 30 October, this time for four days instead of five. We are trying to navigate the various legal restrictions and will be issuing a full statement tomorrow.

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  • Comes as UK legal system under spotlight for silencing climate protectors

This Thursday Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook goes on trial for breaking one window – valued £27,500 – at the UK’s Department for Transport in London in October 2019, as part of a rebellion [1] against the government’s failure to take adequate and appropriate action on the climate and nature emergencies.

Legal arguments will be heard Thursday 13 and Friday 14 July at Isleworth Crown Court, London, with the trial proper running across the next week. Gail has pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal damage, arguing that while she did break the window, she did it as an act of conscientious protection – a concept not yet recognised in current law. Bradbrook’s trial has been postponed several times to take account of various rulings, notably including the Colston statue case. [2] [3]

Bradbrook holds a doctorate in molecular biophysics from the University of Manchester, alongside several prizes and awards for her undergraduate degree including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s best chemist award and a Wellcome Scholarship. 

Judiciary silencing and imprisoning climate protectors

The trial comes at a critical point for climate activism in the UK. With global heat records being broken daily [4], the Conservative government’s chilling legislative clampdown is placing severe limits on the right of protest [5] [6], while judges jail people for contempt of court – just for mentioning the words climate change. Since February 2023 Judge Reid has sent three people to jail for defying his orders and explaining why they undertook their actions [7] [8] [9]

 “Juries regularly acquit protectors if we are able to explain our motivations and the context for our actions,” said Cathy Eastburn, a supporter of XR, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain, who has spent time in prison as a result of her nonviolent direct action to sound the alarm and instigate action on climate change.

“The government and the courts have responded by eroding trial by jury – a highly valued central tenet of our legal system – by stealth. We are being silenced and no longer have the right to defend ourselves, nor to a fair trial. And if we stand up for ourselves against the dictates of the court, we are sent to jail.”

Gail Bradbrook and Extinction Rebellion

Gail Bradbrook co-founded Extinction Rebellion back in 2018 after a period of research, preparation and network building. A mother of two teenage boys, she was named by GQ as one of the most influential people in Britain and honoured in the BBC Woman’s Hour Power List 2020: Our Planet – celebrating UK women making a significant contribution to the health and sustainability of the environment. Whilst charges of conspiracy were recently dropped, Bradbrook has had to wait for nearly four years to be tried for this action,  that was a protest at government inaction, the environmentally damaging projects of the Department for Transport itself, especially the HS2 project.  

After XR’s first rebellion in 2019, parliament declared a Climate and Environment Emergency but the government has subsequently failed to act with the necessary urgency. The government is now making things worse by licensing new oil, coal and gas developments that are incompatible with a 1.5C world [10] [11]. XR is now a global movement using nonviolent civil disobedience to put pressure on institutions to act on the climate and nature emergencies. In April this year, XR UK joined forces with over 200 organisations to bring 100,000 people together outside the UK’s Parliament across four days to demand an end to the fossil fuel era, implement emergency citizens assemblies and reparations. [12]

Notes for editors:

[1] Extinction Rebellion disrupt UKs Department for Transport – where is the plan to meet a net zero target and halt biodiversity loss?

[2] Extinction Rebellion co-founder’s trial delayed by Colston review

[3] Extinction Rebellion protester to face trial after Court of Appeal ruling

[4] For the third time this week, Earth sets an unofficial heat record

[5] UN rights chief urges UK to reverse ‘troubling’ Public Order Bill

[6] Liberty launches legal action against home secretary for overriding parliament on protest powers

[7] Insulate Britain activist jailed for eight weeks for contempt of court

[8] Activists jailed for seven weeks for defying ban on mentioning climate crisis

[9] Protesters must be allowed to explain motives in court

 [10] New fossil fuels ‘incompatible’ with 1.5C goal, comprehensive analysis finds 

[11] Lord Deben backs Labour’s plan to halt new North Sea oil and gas drilling

[12] The Big One: Our Collective Demand

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