Extinction Rebellion Women vs HSBC: Crown Court trial begins Monday - Extinction Rebellion UK

Extinction Rebellion Women vs HSBC: Crown Court trial begins Monday

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Nine women of Extinction Rebellion, charged with over half a million pounds of criminal damage at HSBC HQ in Canary Wharf in April 2021, are due to appear at Southwark Crown Court for a jury trial beginning on Monday October 30th.

The women are on trial for an action which took place at 7am on April 22nd 2021, during which they cracked the glass in several of the windows of HSBC’s HQ in Canary Wharf, London. The women wore patches reading ‘better broken windows than broken promises’ and placed stickers on the windows of the bank reading ‘£80 billion into fossil fuels in the last 5 years’ before cracking the glass using hammers and chisels. [1]

If found guilty the women—Jessica Agar, Blyth Brentnall, Valerie Brown, Eleanor (Gully) Bujak, Clare Farrell, Miriam Instone, Tracey Mallaghan, Susan Reid and Samantha Smithson—face potential sentences of up to four years in prison. 

Since May 2021, nearly 150 activists have been imprisoned in the UK, including those taking action with Extinction Rebellion, Animal Rising, Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil, Palestine Action and HS2 Rebellion. In April this year, Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker were given the longest ever sentence for nonviolent protest in the UK in modern times. [2] They are currently serving 3 years, and 2 years 7 months respectively.

This is the tenth Extinction Rebellion case to be heard in a Crown Court, and the third of seven upcoming trials for women’s window breaking actions, following in the tradition of the suffragettes. In July 2022, six medics also cracked the glass in the Canary Wharf Headquarters of J P Morgan. [3] The retrial of Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook for breaking a window at the Department for Transport in 2019 is also due to begin on October 30th at Isleworth Crown Court. 

Of the members of Extinction Rebellion to have faced trial before a jury to date, twenty have been found ‘not guilty’ and eighteen have been found ‘guilty’. In April 2021, a jury found the ‘Shell 7’ not guilty despite the judge advising that five of the defendants had no defense under the law. In the case of the ‘DLR 3’, whose trial took place in December 2019, the jury found them guilty “with regret”. [4]

All nine women who took part in the action pleaded ‘not guilty’. The trial has been scheduled to run for two weeks, with several of the women self-representing in court: 

  • Jessica Agar, 23, an artist, metalsmith, former conservationist and recent university graduate from Cambridgeshire.
  • Blyth Brentnall, 32, a journalist and campaigner for social and climate justice from London. 
  • Valerie Brown, 71, a 2021 London Mayoral candidate, grandmother and former playwright turned climate activist from London.
  • Eleanor (Gully) Bujak, 30, a former receptionist from Norwich, now working as a community organiser in Hull.
  • Clare Farrell, 40, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, spokesperson for the climate and wider environment movement and lecturer in sustainable fashion at Central Saint Martins from London.
  • Miriam Instone, 25, a musician and nanny from Greater Manchester. 
  • Tracey Mallaghan, 47, a medically retired school nurse and spokesperson for Insulate Britain from Milton Keynes.
  • Susan Reid, 65, a grandmother and retired community care worker from Preston.
  • Samantha Smithson, 41, a former fashion designer from Nottingham turned climate activist. 

For queries, or to be added to the XR broadcast for live updates, contact Nuala on 07986671716 or Alanna on 07561098449

Notes to editors 

[1] ‘This is an act of care’ – Extinction Rebellion women break windows at HSBC Canary Wharf HQ in latest action to highlight the financing of climate breakdown: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/04/22/breaking-this-is-an-act-of-care-extinction-rebellion-women-break-windows-at-hsbc-canary-wharf-hq-in-latest-action-to-highlight-the-financing-of-climate-breakdown/

[2] Just Stop Oil pair in bid to challenge ‘longest’ sentences for peaceful protest: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/just-stop-oil-court-of-appeal-thornton-london-essex-police-b2382289.html

[3] Extinction Rebellion women and medics window breaking actions: 

Department for Transport, October 2019: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2019/10/15/extinction-rebellion-disrupt-uks-department-for-transport-where-is-the-plan-to-meet-a-net-zero-target-and-halt-biodiversity-loss/

Barclays, Stroud, March 2021: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/03/30/breaking-extinction-rebellion-co-founder-dr-gail-bradbrook-breaks-window-at-barclays-bank-in-act-of-civil-disobedience/

Barclays HQ, Canary Wharf, London, April 2021:  https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/04/07/breaking-better-broken-windows-than-broken-promises-extinction-rebellion-women-break-windows-at-barclays-hq-in-canary-wharf/

Barclays, Norwich, April 2021: https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/20655363.extinction-rebellion-protesters-arrested-smashing-barclays-windows/

HSBC HQ, Canary Wharf, London, April 2021: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/04/22/breaking-this-is-an-act-of-care-extinction-rebellion-women-break-windows-at-hsbc-canary-wharf-hq-in-latest-action-to-highlight-the-financing-of-climate-breakdown/

JP Morgan European Office, London, September 2021: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/09/01/in-case-of-climate-emergency-break-glass-extinction-rebellion-women-break-windows-at-worlds-worst-bank-jp-morgan/

JP Morgan Canary Wharf Offices, July 2022: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2022/07/17/breaking-doctors-for-xr-crack-glass-at-jp-morgan-as-uk-declares-heatwave-national-emergency/#:~:text=This%20morning%20at%208%20am,psychiatrist%20and%20a%20dementia%20nurse.

[4] Table of Extinction Rebellion Crown Court trials and verdicts to date:

ActionTrial dateVerdictNotes on the verdict
DLR 3December 2019Guilty The jury found the defendants guilty “with regret”
Shell 7 April 2021Not guiltyJury equity decision
Brazil Embassy July 2021Guilty
James BrownJuly 2021Guilty
Canary Wharf 6December 2021Not guilty
ShadwellJanuary 2022Not guilty
Canning TownMarch 2022GuiltyThe jury asked to read a statement expressing regret at the verdict. 
Barclays 7November/December 2022Guilty
Barclays Kings LynnAugust 2023Guilty
Treasury Fire Engine (conspiracy case)October 2023Verdict not yet public
Treasury Fire Engine (criminal damage case)October 2023Verdict not yet public

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and ecological crisis which is upon us, including the sixth mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

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