Climate action

IssueJune - July 2024
News by PN staff

Most climate direct action recently seems to have been carried out by Just Stop Oil (JSO), and most of the court cases also involve them, including three acquittals and a professional suspension. Here is some of what’s been happening.

On 15 May, three JSO activists were convicted under the Section 7 of the new Public Order Act 2023, which bans interference with ‘key national infrastructure’, including roads.

Daniel Hall, Phoebe Plummer and Chiara Sarti had marched along a Central London road for 20 minutes on 15 November 2023 demanding an end to licences for new coal, gas and oil projects.

The three will be sentenced on 3 July.

On 16 April, two JSO activists, Callum Goode and Tez Burns, were acquitted by City of London magistrates’ court in the first case involving the new crime of ‘locking-on’, according to Just Stop Oil.

The pair had glued their hands to the gates of the high court in Central London on 6 March to protest against the use of injunctions to silence climate protesters.

District judge Neeta Minhas ruled that it would be disproportionate to convict Callum and Tez for the 15-minute delay to court proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice, and so they were ‘not guilty’. (Callum had been in prison since 6 March on remand.)

JSO have claimed a number of other acquittals recently. On 14 May, Lora Johnson (38) was found ‘not guilty’ of criminal damage by a jury at Southwark crown court, despite admitting that she sprayed the Metropolitan police’s iconic New Scotland Yard sign with orange paint.

The most unusual climate direct action event of the last two months was the suspension of a GP for five months. An independent tribunal of the medical practitioners tribunal service found on 22 April that Dr Sarah Benn had committed professional ‘misconduct’.

The problem was not that she engaged in peaceful protest, but that she had broken injunctions and bail conditions ordering her not to protest at the Kingsbury oil terminal in Warwickshire.

The British Medical Association said it was ‘very concerned’ by the tribunal’s finding.

On 19 April, five JSO protesters were found guilty of aggravated trespass after disrupting a performance of Les Misérables in Central London on 5 October 2023.

Hanan Ameur (22), Poppy Bliss (19), Noah Crane (18), Lydia Gribbin (28) and Hannah Taylor (23) will be sentenced at a later date.

On 10 May, Judy Bruce (85) and reverend Dr Sue Parfitt (82) entered the British Library and broke the glass around the Magna Carta, one of the most important legal documents in British history, limiting the powers of the government.

They were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. The document was not damaged.

  • On an international note, on 22 April, the Swedish ‘Restore Wetlands’ group declared victory and said: ‘We will no longer glue ourselves to the highway with our Restore Wetlands banners.’ They believe that their disruptive actions mobilised public opinion to force all political parties in the Riksdag to support restoring wetlands which meant that, this year, the government made wetlands a priority climate issue.