Extinction Rebellion co-founder walks free from court for breaking government windows
December 18, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook walked from court today (Monday) after being given a suspended jail sentence for criminal damage. Her sentence highlighted the ‘legal lottery’ facing climate activists who are defying a concerted campaign by government and judges to silence them.
After noting that the high-profile climate defender was previously a ‘person of previous good character’, a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced Dr Bradbrook to a 15 month prison sentence, suspended for 15 months, for breaking a window at the Department of Transport in October 2019 to protest the government’s deadly role in the accelerating climate and nature emergency.
The mother of two with a doctorate in molecular biology was also given a 12-month supervision order and 150 hours of community service – but no order for costs or compensation.
Unbowed by her conviction and sentencing, Dr Bradbrook immediately released a damning 75-page dossier of evidence (6) that her jury was stopped from hearing and said: “Our so called justice system is a lottery for climate defenders and not fit for purpose when it comes to tackling the climate and nature crisis.”
Outside of Isleworth Crown court, Dr Bradbrook was joined by protestors dressed as Suffragettes, and by Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn who said: “I believe that anyone who is awake to these times will feel in their bones that a mother, scientist and concerned citizen like Gail Bradbrook shouldn’t be punished for taking actions to protect her children and the children of all of life.
“In her court defence, Gail proposed a draft “People’s Law” in honour of our deceased friend Polly Higgins, the ecocide campaigner who recognised acts of conscientious protection. I’m sure I’m not alone in recognising that you can serve a higher law with courageous acts that long for true justice.”
Dr Bradbrook’s two-day trial shone a spotlight on judges who appear intent on ensuring that juries convict climate activists by banning evidence and entire lines of defence and effectively instructing jurors that defendants are guilty as charged.
The judge in Dr Bradbrook’s case, Judge Edmunds, directed the jury that she had no defence, and banned her from arguing that her actions were justified in law. He stopped jurors hearing supporting evidence about government climate lies and the environmental and community impacts of HS2, and a witness statement demanding Ministers be tried for crimes against humanity for exacerbating the climate crisis. HS2 was recently described as a “Multi billion pound fraud against the British public” by a whistleblower as part of a Times investigation.
Releasing the banned evidence, Dr Bradbrook said today: “It wasn’t a surprise that the jury convicted me when the judge banned them from hearing most of my defence, including an almost entirely redacted transcript of my police interview and declared evidence in support of my motives as inadmissible in court.
“When the Establishment argue that acts of civil disobedience like mine aren’t necessary because we have a functioning democracy and court system to enable change, who do they think they’re fooling? Anyone with half a brain can see the courts are not acting on behalf of British citizens and of life – they are complicit in marching us off a climate cliff.”
Dr Bradbrook’s conviction stands in stark contrast to two other recent high-profile climate trials in which judges allowed juries to hear supporting evidence and defendants to explain fully why they had carried out their actions.
In October, a jury acquitted four XR activists of criminal damage after hearing they had sprayed the Treasury in Whitehall, London, with fake blood from a decommissioned fire engine in October 2019, causing an alleged £16,000 of damage.
The jury returned not guilty verdicts after the four explained that – like Dr Bradbrook – they had targeted a government building to expose the Government’s complicity in climate breakdown. The judge in their case suggested to the Crown Prosecution Service that a further court case concerning the same action was not in the public interest.
In November, a jury acquitted nine women climate activists who broke windows at the London HQ of HSBC, causing an alleged £500,000 in damage, after a judge allowed them to explain to jurors that they had been highlighting the bank’s continued funding of the climate-destroying fossil fuel industry.
Dr Bradbrook said today:
“Activists are facing criminal conviction for sounding the alarm about the climate crisis while those responsible for destroying the life support systems of the entire Earth are not being held to account by our failing courts.
“Worse still, corporate courts are allowing fossil fuel criminals to sue governments for climate-friendly policies and punishing injunctions and authoritarian laws crafted by fossil fuel-funded politicians are being used to crush our democracy and our right to protest.”
Attempts by the UK State and justice system to effectively outlaw meaningful climate protest have drawn international condemnation.
In November, the UN had written to the British government raising concerns that its approach to environmental defenders violated fundamental human rights, with specific reference to the severity of recent sentencing.
The UN’s letter was followed by another from the leading climate scientists, Sir David King and Professor Jim Hansen, countersigned by many artists and cultural figures, in the wake of the trial of the nine women who broke the windows of HSBC:
“While we applaud the jury for recognising these women’s solid defence for taking such action and following their conscience, a collective act of madness is going unchecked both in the UK and across the globe. Those standing up in defence of life on Earth are being criminalised by the UK legal system, while our own government willingly continues to facilitate the destruction of our only home.”
Notes for editors
[1A] Greta Thunberg at Extinction Rebellion, 31 October 2018 https://youtu.be/H8prVarP-rQ?feature=shared
[1B] Trial aborted and jury discharged without a verdict in XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook’s Department for Transport case https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2023/07/21/trial-aborted-and-jury-discharged-without-a-verdict-in-xr-cofounder-gail-bradbrooks-department-for-transport-case/
 “Meet the Shadowy Network Vilifying Climate Protestors” https://www.desmog.com/2023/09/12/atlas-network-vilifying-climate-protestors/
 “Extinction Rebellion trial jury express regret at convicting activists” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/18/extinction-rebellion-trial-jury-express-regret-at-convicting-activists
 “Activists jailed for seven weeks for defying ban on mentioning climate crisis” https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/activists-jailed-for-seven-weeks-for-defying-ban-on-mentioning-climate-crisis/
 “Big Oil Billions and The Real Cancel Culture Threatening Brits With Prison for Telling the Truth” https://bylinetimes.com/2023/08/25/big-oil-billions-and-the-real-cancel-culture-threatening-brits-with-prison-for-telling-the-truth/
 “Human rights experts warn against European crackdown on climate protesters” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/12/human-rights-experts-warn-against-european-crackdown-on-climate-protesters
(6) Dr Bradbrook’s dossier of banned supporting evidence https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YYdGO8x7VD2RIWcovjE7AeF06nvgU8FZ/edit