Trials and legal cases

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…

1 December 2021News

800 arrests and counting in insulation campaign

124 climate activists were arrested for blockading bridges in Central London on 20 November. They were acting in solidarity with nine members of ‘Insulate Britain’, who had been imprisoned by the high court in London on 17 November for contempt of court.

The ‘Highway 9’ had all continued to blockade the M25 after injunctions were issued banning obstruction of that motorway or any other major road in England.

It is believed the authorities had delayed the hearing in order to…

1 October 2021News

Case dismissed as 'no case to answer'

On 16 September, two Faslane Peace Campers had the case against them thrown out of Dunbarton justice of the peace court. One of them had spent nearly six weeks in prison on remand, waiting for the trial.

Willemien Hoogendoorn and Jon had been arrested for ‘breach of the peace’ on Hiroshima Day, 6 August, after blockading the North Gate of Faslane nuclear submarine base from 6.30am till around 12 noon.

According to the Helensburgh Advertiser, ‘tailbacks were reported in…

1 October 2021News

Paralympian jailed for airport action

On 24 September, Paralympic gold medallist James Brown, 56, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for an Extinction Rebellion (XR) action at London City Airport during XR’s October 2019 ‘Rebellion’.

This first custodial sentence for an XR action was imposed for the offence of causing ‘a public nuisance’.

Alanna Byrne, of Extinction Rebellion UK, said: ‘We are shocked and devastated by this news.’

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell tweeted: ‘It’s an excessively harsh…

1 October 2021News

US whistleblower gets 45 month sentence

On 27 July, former US air force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison by a court in Virginia, USA.

Hale, 33, had plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act by sharing government documents relating to targeted drone killings and other abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

Hale spoke in court before sentencing, saying: ‘I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenceless.’ He said he shared what ‘was necessary to dispel…

8 December 2020News

Extradition hearing to take place on 24 February

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s full extradition hearing is scheduled for 24 February at Woolwich crown court in South London.

The investigative journalist was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy last April, having spent seven years there after claiming asylum to avoid possible extradition to the US via Sweden.

Sexual assault charges Julian was facing in Sweden have since been dropped, but he has been kept in Belmarsh high security prison because of an extradition request…

1 December 2019Feature

The trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7

Sketch of Mark Colville during the Kingsbay Plowshares 7 trial. Drawing: Dan Burgevin

‘You are the hope you have arrived to find.’

So ended a brief message that father Steve Kelly wrote from jail last month to be read to more than 100 friends and supporters on the eve of the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in coastal Brunswick, Georgia, USA.

The 70-year-old Jesuit knows something about sustaining hope in hard places. This time, he’s already been in jail for…

1 August 2019News

Campaigners fined £3,180 for bomb factory blockade

On 8-9 July, four Trident Ploughshares activists were acquitted and four were found guilty at High Wycombe magistrates' court. They were being prosecuted for an all-day blockade of the Burghfield nuclear bomb factory in Berkshire on 24 October last year. (PN 2624-2625)

Jan and Brian Jones, Jane Picksley and Marie Walsh were charged with highway obstruction for sitting in front of Pingewood Gate while locked to each other through arm tubes. District judge Sophie Toms acquitted them on…

1 June 2019News

'Farcical' prosecution of ant-nuke campaigners


Eight Trident Ploughshares campaigners were on trial at Reading magistrates court on 23 April for blocking access to Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire on 24 October 2018. Welsh activists Awel Irene (second from left), Jan Jones (second from right, front) and Brian Jones (second from right, back) labelled the prosecution ‘farcical’ after charges of ‘aggravated trespass’ were added to the original ‘obstruction of the public highway’ charges. This charged four of the…

1 April 2019News

Sentencing prompts counter-trial and direct action

On 6 February, the 15 anti-deportation activists known as the ‘Stansted 15’ were sentenced for nonviolently stopping a deportation flight carrying 60 people to West Africa in March 2017. They had already launched an appeal against their convictions on 7 January, but this has yet to be heard. Their sentencing sparked a counter-trial and direct action in London.

Melanie Strickland (35), Ali Tamlit (30) and Eddie Thacker (29) were given nine-month prison sentences, suspended for 18…