Trials and legal cases

1 February 2023News

Ziegler precedent leads to not-guilty verdict in trial of Just Stop Oil campaigners

One of last year’s most talked-about British direct actions ended with Hannah Hunt (23) and Eben Lazarus (22) walking free from court, with £850 fines. The two Just Stop oil supporters had glued a nightmare version of Constable’s The Hay Wain over the painting itself in the National Gallery on 4 July – and glued their own hands to the frame of the painting (PN 2661).

They were found ‘guilty’ of aggravated trespass and criminal damage at Westminster magistrates court…

1 February 2023News

Campaign targeting arms to Israel still going strong

Palestine Action (PA) has kept up a hectic pace recently in terms of court dates, and has also carried on its campaign of property damage against British arms firms supplying the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

PA, founded in July 2020, has branched out from its focus on Elbit UK, the British subsidiary of Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit Systems, which supplies military drones to the IDF for use against Palestinians.

For example, on 19 January campaigners in Scotland…

1 October 2022News

Scores imprisoned for blockading oil terminals

On 14 September, dozens of Just Stop Oil (JSO) activists broke an injunction by blockading the Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire. 51 of them were held in prison for at least a week, because they’d been banned from the terminal after a previous action.

Two campaigners, Rajan Naidu, a civil rights advocate, and Dr Sarah Benn, a GP, were given 34-day prison sentences, both for a third breach of the injunction.

Birmingham magistrates gave 28 other activists sentences of up to…

1 October 2022News

Palestine Action campaigners charged with burglary and 'blackmail'

A five-week trial involving members of the direct action group Palestine Action (PA) is due to start at Snaresbrook crown court on on 10 October.

The eight Palestine Action activists (including cofounders Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard) have been charged with burglary, criminal damage and ‘blackmail’ – for which the maximum sentence is 14 years.

The charges relate to the first six months of PA action against the British subsidiary of the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems,…

3 August 2022News

Dissident Israelis held on remand for one month

On 20 June, the British branch of Elbit, Israel’s largest arms company, announced it was closing its offices in Kingsway, Central London.

This was five months after Elbit, which produces 85 percent of the military drones Israel uses for attacks on Palestinian territory, announced the sale of its Elbit Ferranti factory in Oldham.

Both these closures are due to a sustained direct action campaign by Palestine Action (PA). In the case of Elbit’s London offices, they’ve been the…

1 August 2022News

Nine walk free after anti-arms fair protest

On 25 July, a group of nine anti-arms trade protesters were acquitted after a four-day trial at Stratford magistrates court in East London.

The court found that Meredith Dickinson, Yvette Hannon, Lizzy Haughton, Francis Henderson, Joshua Instone, William James, Emily Robinson, James Uzzell and Luke Whiting did obstruct the highway by blocking an access road to the DSEI arms fair last September.

However, the DSEI Nine were acquitted because the court ruled that the…

24 June 2022Resource

A celebration of the ground-breaking right-to-protest decision

On 25 June 2021, the supreme court of the United Kingdom delivered a landmark judgement on the right to protest, ruling that deliberately obstructive protest can be legal.

Dozens of direct action cases have already benefited from the Ziegler judgement, including that of the Colston Four.

The supreme court reached their historic decision when considering the case of four Christian peace activists who had…

20 June 2022Blog

In this online telling of the tale, over twice as long as the article we printed in PN 2660, we hear from the activists behind the landmark legal ruling that deliberately obstructive protest can be legal.

Two slogan-covered boxes are bundled out of a van in East London. People lie down on the road next to the boxes.

Within seconds, the police are there.

So are the activists’ support team and other protesters.

DSEI, one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, is being set up in the nearby ExCeL Centre.

Within minutes, the four people lying in the road – Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Jo Frew and Nora Ziegler – have been arrested.

*

This small action,…

1 June 2022Feature

We hear from the activists behind the landmark legal ruling that deliberately obstructive protest can be legal

Two slogan-covered boxes are bundled out of a van. People lie down on the road next to the boxes. Within seconds, the police are there. So are other campaigners protesting against the DSEI arms fair, which is being set up in the nearby ExCeL Centre. Within minutes, the four people lying in the road – Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Jo Frew and Nora Ziegler – have been arrested.

This small action, which took place on 5 September 2017, led directly to a ground-breaking legal judgement…

1 April 2022News

MPs criticise police for 'misleading' enquiry

On 14 March, a young protester was cleared of riot but imprisoned for nine months for her part in ‘Kill the Bill’ protests outside a police station in Bristol on 21 March last year. Jasmine York (26) was convicted of arson because she had been filmed pushing a bin against a burning police car. She denied in court that she had been intending to add more fuel to the fire.

So far, 15 protesters have been sentenced to almost 60 years imprisonment for their part in the Bristol protest…

1 February 2022Feature

Some other acquitted activists respond to the historic Colston Four verdict

To mark the Colston Four acquittal, we asked some other campaigners who’d been found ‘not guilty’ in protest cases for their reactions. We’ve put them in chronological order of their earliest not-on-technical-grounds acquittal (some of them have multiple court victories).

Chris Cole:

I was delighted to see the acquittal of the Colston Four for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it kept an evidently lovely bunch of people out of jail.

Secondly, it led to a whole raft of MPs…

1 February 2022Feature

PN surveys the legal defences employed by the Colston Four

A host of right-wing voices have spoken out against the acquittal of the Colston Four, describing it as ‘perverse’ and claiming – or assuming – that the jury had ignored the law.

Former justice secretary and Conservative MP Robert Jenrick attacked the acquittal by tweeting: ‘We undermine the rule of law, which underpins our democracy, if we accept vandalism and criminal damage are acceptable forms of political protest. They aren’t. Regardless of the intentions.’

The Secret…

1 February 2022News

Israeli drone maker sells UK factory as campaigners acquitted in two cases 

Palestine Action (PA), the direct action group, has claimed three recent victories, including winning both of its first two court cases.

On 10 January, the Israeli drone-maker Elbit Systems announced that it had sold off a UK factory which had been disrupted over a long period by PA.

Just 10 days later, three PA activists walked free from Birmingham magistrates court after the crown prosecution service (CPS) dropped charges of criminal damage, aggravated trespass and resisting…

1 February 2022News

Juries find climate campaigners 'not guilty' in two trials 

On 10 December, six climate activists were found ‘not guilty’ by a jury at Inner London crown court of obstructing a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) train at Canary Wharf station in East London on 25 April 2019. Five of them were from Christian Climate Action (CCA).

On 14 January, three CCA direct actionists were found ‘not guilty’ by another jury at the same court. They had also stopped a DLR train, this time at Shadwell station, on 17 October 2019. (One of them had also taken part in…

1 December 2021News

Eastern leg of high-speed rail project (mostly) cancelled

Along with some fine acquittals, the campaign to stop the carbon-intensive HS2 high-speed railway line chalked up a major victory on 18 November.

The government announced that most of the eastern section of the project would now not go ahead after all. Instead of running from Birmingham all the way up to Leeds, the eastern arm will only stretch 40 miles to East Midlands Parkway station, south of Nottingham.

A spokesperson for Stop HS2, Joe Rukin, said: ‘The cancellation of the…