Three trials of people who took action to defend lives to begin next week - Extinction Rebellion UK

Three trials of people who took action to defend lives to begin next week

We are witnessing genocide and societal collapse in Palestine and the UK government, alongside other powerful western governments, are complicit in it. It has been reported that, similar to the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by Britain and US, a motivating force behind Israeli military operation in Gaza is fossil fuel expansion. [1][2]

Last week it was revealed that the ‘safe’ limit for global heating has been breached for a whole year for the first time. Millions of people, including those in Britain, face death, displacement and disaster on an unprecedented scale. [3]

It is now indisputable that fossil fuel expansion needs to stop. [4]

On Monday 19th February three trials are due to begin of people involved in three different acts of nonviolent direct action to stop new fossil fuel expansion and protect lives.

The three trials are:

Extinction Rebellion JPMorgan Emergency Break Glass – five women charged with Criminal Damage for breaking glass at JPMorgan’s European HQ, September 2021

Insulate Britain M25 – eight Insulate Britain supporters charged with Public Nuisance for peacefully stopping traffic on the M25 motorway, September 2021

Just Stop Oil Tunnels Campaign – five Just Stop Oil supporters charged with Conspiracy to cause a Public Nuisance for occupying tunnels close to Grays Oil Terminal, August 2022.

These trials also come amidst fresh attempts by the UK Government to undermine trials by jury and increase the punishments given to people taking part in nonviolent civil resistance. On 21st February the Court of Appeal will consider whether the last remaining legal defence of ‘belief in consent’, should continue to be available to defendants in nonviolent direct action cases involving damage to property. The Attorney General announced last year that due to the high number of recent acquittals by juries in these cases, they had asked the Court of Appeal to undertake a review. [5][6]

Due to the coinciding of the JPMorgan Emergency Break Glass trial and the Court of Appeal review, it is possible that the group on trial in front of Judge Reid could be the last defendants allowed to run ‘belief in consent’ as a legal defence. As a result, more and more defendants of principle could find themselves in court, with no legal defence and prevented from explaining their motivations to a jury of their peers.

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook has already been denied the use of this defence and was therefore left without any legal defence in her trial last November for breaking a window at the Department for Transport. [7]

Judges who deny people acting from their conscience the opportunity to defend themselves in court have been causing alarm both nationally and internationally [8].

Last month, in a report commissioned and released by the United Nations (UN), Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, said: “It is very difficult to understand what could justify denying the jury the opportunity to hear the reason for the defendant’s action, and how a jury could reach a properly informed decision without hearing it, in particular at the time of environmental defenders’ peaceful but ever more urgent calls for the government to take pressing action for the climate.”

Further details about each case below:

Extinction Rebellion JPMorgan Emergency Break Glass
Five women from Extinction Rebellion (XR) will be on trial for breaking glass at JPMorgan’s European HQ in London Blackfriars on 1st September 2021. [9]

JPMorgan remains the largest funder of fossil fuel expansion in the world since the Paris Agreement in 2016. [10]

Of the eight people who undertook this direct action, only five have been summoned to answer charges of Criminal Damage to the value of £330,000. The trial will be in front of Judge Reid at Inner London Crown Court and is scheduled for seven days. Two of the defendants will be self-representing in court.

Judge Reid sentenced one of the defendants, Amy Pritchard, alongside two others, to prison last year for breaching his ruling not to mention the phrases ‘climate change’ or ‘fuel poverty’ or otherwise speak about the motivations for their actions to the jurors trying them during a trial relating to Insulate Britain’s campaign on M25. [11]

The imprisonment of people for speaking the ‘whole truth’ in British courtrooms sparked a wave of nonviolent direct actions designed to bring to public attention the principle of jury equity, which is deemed to be under threat by leading legal figures. [12][13][14]

This is the sixth jury trial of women from Extinction Rebellion who have ‘broken glass’ at major banks and fossil fuel headquarters. Of the twenty women who have stood trial so far, ten have been found guilty and ten have been acquitted (found not guilty). In July 2022, six medics also broke glass at the JPMorgan’s Canary Wharf Headquarters in anticipation of the hottest day ever recorded in the UK. [15]

The defendants on trial at Inner London Crown Court next week are:

The defendants on trial at Inner London Crown Court next week are:
Stephanie Aylett, 29, a former medical device representative from St Albans

Pamela Bellinger, 66, a vegetable grower from Leicester
Amy Pritchard, 38, a student from Liverpool
Adelheid Russenberger, 32 PhD student from Richmond, London
Rosemary (Annie) Webster, 67, a retired cook and beekeeper from Dorchester, Dorset

Insulate Britain supporters who sat on M25

At Reading Crown Court the trial of eight Insulate Britain supporters begins. The eight have been charged with Public Nuisance relating to a peaceful roadblock of junction 31, Purfleet Interchange on the M25 motorway on 13th September 2021.

Insulate Britain supporters undertook eighteen days of action on the M25 between 13th September and 4th November 2021 to demand that the government insulate Britain’s cold and leaky homes to end fuel poverty and decarbonise the UK, something which the government is legally obliged to do. [16][17]

The trial is due to be heard by Judge Campbell and is scheduled for fifteen days. Several of the defendants will be self-representing in court. The Prosecutor representing the Crown is Maryam Syed a former Judge turned-prosecutor who’s specialism is counter-terrorism. [18]

The defendants are:
David Crawford, 70, a retired Engineer from Dorking
Gabriella Ditton, 30, a waiter from Norwich
Janine Eagling, 62, a retired IT project manager from London
Lou Lancaster, 58, a teacher from Cambridge
Nick Onley,  61, a musician and community worker from ExmouthRob Stuart, 42, a mental healthcare professional from London
Nicholas Till, 68, a university professor from London
Biff Whipster, 56, a retired business analyst from Canterbury

Tunnel campaign supporters from Just Stop Oil

The trial of five Just Stop Oil supporters will be heard by Judge Graham at Basildon Crown Court. The charges of Public Nuisance and Conspiracy to cause a Public Nuisance relate to a series of tunnels that were occupied close to Grays Oil Terminal in Essex in August 2022. Some of the defendants spent thirteen days underground, demanding the government immediately halt all new oil, coal and gas projects in the UK. The trial is scheduled for four weeks. Two of the defendants will be self-representing in court. [19][20]

Judge Graham has been newly appointed to this case after Judge Collery (previously assigned) was shuffled out following increasingly high-profile and widespread criticism of the prison terms he imposed on two Just Stop Oil supporters last year which were the longest sentences received in modern history for a nonviolent direct action. [21]

The defendants on trial at Basildon Crown Court next week are:

Christopher Bennett, 32, a support worker from Bristol
Joe Howlett, 33, a musician from Somerset 

Samuel Johnson, 40, a construction worker from Reydon, Suffolk
Dr Larch Maxey, 51, a sustainability researcher and consultant from London  
Autumn Wharrie, a mother and grandmother from Stepney


Xavier Gonzalez Trimmer
This week marks one year since Xavier Gonzalez Trimmer, 22 from London, took his own life just two weeks after being sentenced by Judge Reid at Inner London Crown Court on 31st January 2023. [22][23]

Xavier had been ‘on’ electronic tag for 5 months before his death and prior to this had been remanded to prison for twenty-one days. Friends have said they feel that Xavier’s experience of prison and the restrictive ‘curfew’ electronic tag conditions he lived with in his final months were a major contributing factor to the suffering that led to his suicide. [24]

Xavier would have been on trial with his friends and colleagues in two of the cases detailed above, the Insulate Britain group and also the Just Stop Oil tunnellers.

Confirming the injustice currently being perpetrated by the UK Judiciary, UN Special Rapporteur, Forst, said: “Such severe bail conditions have significant impacts on the environmental defenders’ personal lives and mental health and I seriously question the necessity and proportionality of such conditions for persons engaging in peaceful protest.”

Press Contacts:
Extinction Rebellion: press@extinctionrebellion.uk / +44(0)7756136396
Insulate Britain: insulatebritainpress@protonmail.com / +44(0)7762 987334
Just Stop Oil: juststopoilpress@protonmail.com / +44(0)7762 987334

Images FREE TO USE available here:
Extinction Rebellion: https://show.pics.io/xr-global-media-breaking-news/search?collectionIds=612f22cd49d6920012aa40e5
Insulate Britain: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kTAV_CBp6GtbDrpO4h7-NRmLxj97uBm2?usp=sharing
Just Stop Oil: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Dgcuv5vJjzfdSrdpX6HJEaayoidc08xy

Notes to Editors
[1] Everybody wants Gaza’s gas:https://www.planetcritical.com/p/everybody-wants-gazas-gas
This Genocide is about oil: https://atmos.earth/this-genocide-is-about-oil/
[2] Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil: https://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/19/opinion/iraq-war-oil-juhasz/index.html
[3] World’s first year-long breach of key 1.5 warming limit:
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-68110310
Global heating breaches 1.5C for full year for first time: https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/january-hottest-on-record-global-warming-b2492674.html
[4] New fossil fuels ‘incompatible’ with 1.5C goal: https://www.carbonbrief.org/new-fossil-fuels-incompatible-with-1-5c-goal-comprehensive-analysis-finds/
[5] Belief in Consent; Criminal Damage Act 1971 Section 5(2)(a)
[6] Attorney General seeks criminal damage clarity from Court of Appeal: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/attorney-general-seeks-criminal-damage-clarity-from-co
[7] Extinction Rebellion co-founder convicted after four-year legal saga: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-67288289
[8] Michel Forst UN Special Rapporteur:
https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2024-01/Aarhus_SR_Env_Defenders_statement_following_visit_to_UK_10-12_Jan_2024.pdf
[9] XR Press Release: IN CASE OF CLIMATE EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2021/09/01/in-case-of-climate-emergency-break-glass-extinction-rebellion-women-break-windows-at-worlds-worst-bank-jp-morgan/
[10] JPMorgan pour $434 billion into Fossil Fuels since 2016 Paris Agreement: https://www.desmog.com/2023/04/12/banks-fossil-fuels-finance-climate-chaos-royal-bank-canada-jpmorgan-chase/
[11] Amy Pritchard & Giovanna Lewis jailed by Judge Reid: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11818173/Two-Insulate-Britain-protesters-jailed-contempt-court.html
David Nixon jailed by Judge Reid: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/07/insulate-britain-activist-david-nixon-jailed-for-eight-weeks-for-contempt-of-court
[12] Professor Richard Vogler: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/sep/27/trudi-warner-english-courts-juries
Court restrictions on climate protesters ‘deeply concerning’, say leading lawyers: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/08/court-restrictions-on-climate-protesters-deeply-concerning-say-leading-lawyers
[13]  Defend our Juries: https://defendourjuries.org/
[14] Jury Equity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification
[15] Doctors for XR break glass at JP Morgan: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2022/07/17/breaking-doctors-for-xr-crack-glass-at-jp-morgan-as-uk-declares-heatwave-national-emergency/
[16] Insulate Britain: ‘We have to keep going’: https://insulatebritain.com/2021/09/13/we-have-to-keep-going/
[17] M25 protest: Insulate Britain releases statement: https://www.kentlive.news/news/kent-news/m25-protest-insulate-britain-issues-5907713
[18] Maryam Syed’s Linkedin page: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/maryam-syed-7a54aa251?trk=public_post_feed-actor-name
[19] Just Stop Oil supporters block critical oil terminals with roadblocks and tunnels: https://juststopoil.org/2022/08/23/just-stop-oil-supporters-block-critical-oil-terminals-in-essex-and-warwickshire-with-roadblocks-and-tunnels/
[20] Just Stop Oil tunnelers leave Grays tunnel after 13 days: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-62790218
[21] Celebrities urge Home Office to reconsider Marcus Decker’s deportation:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/26/geldof-coleman-urge-home-office-to-reconsider-climate-activist-marcus-decker-deportation
UN criticises ‘severe’ Just Stop Oil sentences:
https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cn0p6ll3jjgo
Just Stop Oil pair in bid to challenge ‘longest’ sentences:
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/just-stop-oil-court-of-appeal-thornton-london-essex-police-b2382289.html
[22] HS2: Activists spray paint HS2’s Euston offices bright pink:https://www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/article/hs2-activists-spray-paint-hs2s-euston-offices-bright-pink
[23] Insulate Britain activist Xavier Gonzalez-Trimmer found dead: Insulate Britain activist Xavier Gonzalez-Trimmer found deadThe Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com › environment › feb › i…
[24] Just Stop Oil activist facing six court cases took his own life: https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/just-stop-oil-activist-facing-27308140

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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