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More UK protestors threatened with arrest and prosecution for ‘holding placards’

Following the decision to begin legal proceedings against one protestor, a number of other individuals have been instructed to attend police interviews for campaigning outside courts. 

In March, Trudi Warner stood outside an active court case relating to disruptive protests and climate activism while holding a placard reading: ‘Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.’

Her aim was to emphasise the fact that Judge Silas Reid, presiding over the case, was wrong to instruct the jury to disregard personal feelings and convictions and focus on the evidence. Warner’s placard is a direct reference to common legal framework established in 1670, enshrining the right for convictions and consciences to form the basis of a verdict.

A plaque commemorating that ruling can still be found at the Old Bailey. Nevertheless, Reid called her before the bench demanding she explain why he shouldn’t hold her in contempt of court. Months later, the Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC, is now pursuing legal action against her based on public interest, which could result in jail time. 

‘My action was to literally uphold the law,’ said Warner, who has described the conclusion to proceed with prosecution as ‘Orwellian’. ‘This is a gross abuse of state power. It is a chilling attack on freedom of speech and should concern everyone.’

Then in August, a group of 40 people, including one police officer and a former-Olympic gold medallist, wrote directly to Tomlinson to inform him they had taken part in similar actions to Warner. As such, if she is prosecuted they should also face similar charges. 

While this hasn’t happened – with many suggesting not pursuing further legal action has fatally flawed the case against Warner – fresh campaigns have again been staged this week outside courts in London, Bristol, Manchester and Cornwall to push back against the decision to prosecute. 

‘In 2023, telling the truth is being treated as a criminal act with people prosecuted for displaying facts in public,’ added,  biologist Dr Abi Perrin, who held her own sign outside the Old Bailey this week.’ I am deeply afraid of a world where truth, science and morality are not important, or where we are not free to fight for them.’

Good Law Project is actively involved in the situation, and details can be found here

Now a further 12 people (pictured) have now also been called for police interviews, with the threat of arrest and prosecution. This again results from participating in protests concerned with the freedom of jurors to make decisions based on personal convictions.

All were present outside a hearing at which Insulate Britain protestors were accused of creating a public nuisance by blocking parts of the M25 motorway. Again, Reid was the judge, and had instructed the defendants not to mention climate change or fuel poverty within their defence as this did not represent legal grounds for the actions. The jury was also told to disregard any thoughts of this motivation. 

More on climate activism and law: 

Camden becomes first UK council to endorse ecocide laws

Ethics and human rights could be banned from local authority decisions

Giving rivers and communities a voice: Environmental Law Foundation

 

 

 

 

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