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Extinction Rebellion protestors found not guilty by jury at DLR trial

Three protestors, Rev Sue Parfitt, Father Martin Newell and Philip Kingston were found not guilty by a jury in London on 14th January. They were accused of obstructing the railway at Shadwell station, in October 2019 as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest.

Two of the defendants used a ladder to climb on the roof of a train. Another glued themselves to the train. They accepted that their actions had prevented the train from moving and, as a result, had caused disruption.

Their solicitor Mike Schwarz and their legal team presented a defence that invited the jury to decide whether a criminal conviction would be a disproportionate interference with their human rights – in particular their freedoms of conscience and religion, expression and assembly.  The activists were members of the church and a former university lecturer.

Commenting on the case Mike said “There is mounting evidence from the courts and in particular from juries that the public is taking the climate crisis, and the increasingly urgent need to focus on it, far more seriously than government and business. This verdict is part of this escalating pattern.”

The news of the acquittal gained national and international press coverage as the impact of the climate crisis and the right to protest for action remains centre stage across the world.

Mike is a Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen and a member of the Protest Law Team. Mike’s work in the areas of protest law, civil liberties and human rights have been recognised and praised by clients and commentators in the legal directories Chambers UK and Legal 500. Mike is joint author of ‘the Law of Public Order and Protest’ (OUP, 2010).

Mike’s three clients were represented in court by Owen Greenhall from Garden Court Chambers. Tom Wainwright, also of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Mike Schwarz, represented a fourth defendant against whom the prosecution was discontinued, before trial, following representations and legal submissions by the defence.