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93 Year Old Peaceful Protester Found Guilty Of Public Order Offence For Sitting In Parliament Square During XR Demonstration

John Lynes, a 93 year-old former human rights observer and university lecturer, has been found guilty of breaching conditions of a protest during an Extinction Rebellion protest in September 2020. Having been found guilty at the City of London Magistrates’ Court in June 2021, he received a £180 fine and has been ordered to pay court costs of £500.

John was arrested as he was sitting down as part of a peaceful demonstration in Parliament Square. He was unable to comply with conditions of the protest set out under section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 that stated that protesters must stay within Parliament Square Gardens and be socially distanced. As Parliament Square Gardens was at capacity, making social distancing impossible, John instead sat down on the road, which was cordoned off and closed to traffic.

Video of John’s arrest went viral in September, with four police officers seen to escort him to a police van.

Freya Colvin, Solicitor in our Crime team, who represented John commented: “My 93 year old XR client was yesterday convicted of a minor non-imprisonable offence, the circumstances of which concerned him sitting peacefully in Parliament Square to support the first reading of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.

“Whilst our courts continue to face a huge backlog of cases, my client was summonsed to London during a pandemic and prosecuted for exercising his Convention rights. It is difficult to understand, particularly in the current climate, how it was in the public interest to proceed with this case. Unfortunately this is the current state of play in our criminal justice system where we are witnessing the increasing criminalisation of peaceful protesters.”

The Crime team at Hodge Jones & Allen specialise in protest law and public order offences. We will continue to fight for the right to protest and challenge the criminalisation of peaceful protest.