Judge trying climate defenders questions existence and severity of climate crisis as UN urges courts “to listen to what environmental defenders have to say” - Extinction Rebellion UK

Judge trying climate defenders questions existence and severity of climate crisis as UN urges courts “to listen to what environmental defenders have to say”

In his directions to the jury in the JPMorgan window breakers case yesterday, Judge Reid cast doubt on the existence of the climate crisis.

Judge Silas Reid, giving directions to the jury ahead of their deliberations yesterday (28 February 2024), said: “It is important to note that the circumstances which are relevant are those of the damage and not other circumstances… The circumstances of the damage do not include any climate crisis which may or may not exist in the world at the moment nor does it include whether nonviolent direct action can prompt change.

Whether climate change is as dangerous as each of the defendants may clearly and honestly believe or is not, is irrelevant and does not form any part of the circumstances of the damage.”

Judge Reid expressed his doubts about the reality and severity of the climate and ecological crisis, which is already seeing millions displaced, starving, injured and dead, on the same day as the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, released his latest report, State repression of environmental protest and civil disobedience: a major threat to human rights and democracy. [1]

The report states that “European nations must end the repression and criminalisation of peaceful protest and urgently take action to cut emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement to limit global heating to 1.5C.” [2]

Judge Reid famously imprisoned one of the defendants currently on trial, Amy Pritchard, along with others, for mentioning the words ‘climate change’ whilst on trial last year. The report references UK courts’ attitudes to climate and environmental activists:: “They have forbidden protesters from mentioning climate change, thereby preventing them from explaining the reasons for their protest. Courts have held convicted environmental defenders who disregarded this prohibition in ‘contempt of court’ and imprisoned them for up to eight weeks.”

The UN report goes on to say: “The environmental emergency that we are collectively facing, and that scientists have been documenting for decades, cannot be addressed if those raising the alarm and demanding action are criminalised for it.

“The only legitimate response to peaceful environmental activism and civil disobedience at this point is that the authorities, the media, and the public realise how essential it is for us all to listen to what environmental defenders have to say.”

Judge Reid’s climate change scepticism came during the ongoing trial at Inner London Crown Court that began on Monday 19th February, regarding five women from Extinction Rebellion are on trial for breaking glass in case of climate emergency at JP Morgan’s European headquarters on 1st September 2021. [3][4]

Of the eight people who undertook this direct action, only five have been summoned to answer charges of Criminal Damage relating to damage of three windows which the Crown claim valued around £306,000.

JP Morgan is the worst bank in the world for funding fossil fuels since the 2016 Paris Agreement, the international treaty intended to limit global temperature rise to a ‘safe’ limit of below 1.5 degrees celsius. [5]

The five women have one remaining legal defence, referred to as a belief in consent, which is currently under review by the Court of Appeal. [6]

The defendants on trial at Inner London Crown Court 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

The trial continues at Inner London Crown Court from midday today in Courtroom 4, with closing addresses of four more women, two self-representing, still to come before the jury go out.

Contact: press@extinctionrebellion.uk | +44(0)7756136396

Images FREE TO USE available here: https://show.pics.io/xr-global-media-breaking-news/search?collectionIds=612f22cd49d6920012aa40e5

Notes to Editors
[1] UN Special Rapporteur for Environmental Defenders; State repression of environmental protest and civil disobedience: a major threat to human rights and democracy: https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2024-02/UNSR_EnvDefenders_Aarhus_Position_Paper_Civil_Disobedience_EN.pdf

[2] European nations must end repression of peaceful climate protest, says UN expert, The Guardian, Wednesday 28 Feb 2024: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/feb/28/european-nations-must-end-repression-of-peaceful-climate-protest-says-un-expert 

[3] 12.02.24 Press Release (pre-trial): https://extinctionrebellion.uk/2024/02/12/three-trials-of-people-who-took-action-to-defend-lives-to-begin-next-week/ 

[4] 01.09.21 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/

[5] JP Morgan 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/

[6] Criminal Damage Act 1971 Section 5(2)(a): https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1971/48

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.

Donate | Support our work
What Emergency? | Read about the t

rue scale of the climate crisis
XR UK Local Groups | View a map of all local groups
XR UK website | Find out more about XRUK
XR Global website | Discover what’s going on in XR around the globe!

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.

Sign up for news