Just Stop Oil protesters found not guilty over M25 protest

  • Post last modified:June 6, 2024
  • Reading time:3 mins read

In a unanimous verdict delivered on Wednesday 5 June by a jury at Guildford Crown Court, Just Stop Oil supporters Nathan McGovern, Rosa Sharkey, and Louis Hawkins were found not guilty of causing criminal damage exceeding £5,000 over their fossil fuel, climate crisis protest.

Just Stop Oil: not guilty

During the trial, Judge Sellers ruled that none of the defence’s three arguments would be allowed for the jury to consider. Despite this, the 12 member jury made a factual determination and found all three defendants not guilty.

On 28 April 2022, Just Stop Oil supporters blocked the entrances to Clacket Lane Services on the M25 by sitting in the road with Just Stop Oil banners. They also decommissioned the petrol pumps by breaking the display glass and covering it with spray paint. This action was taken in support of their demand for the UK government to end all new oil and gas projects in the country.

The verdict flies in the face of a previous court ruling.

As the Canary previously reported, following a pattern of jury acquittals of environmental defenders and anti-genocide activists, which exposes the media fiction that the British government’s ‘crackdown on protest’ is in any way democratic, the Court of Appeal in March backed the Attorney General’s call to remove what was for many their last remaining line of legal defence.

It has ruled that mass loss of life from climate breakdown and the government’s failure to act on the science are irrelevant to the circumstances of an action, for the purposes of the defence of consent to damage to property. That is – protesters deeply-held and factual beliefs are no defence.

This case was one such example of where that applied. However, clearly the jury were unconcerned.

Nathan McGovern spoke about the outcome:

Despite Attorney General rulings, despite losing every legal defence, despite the Conservative Party demonising those taking action to protect our communities from the crimes of oil companies – 12 ordinary members of the public have returned a resounding not guilty verdict.

This is a clear sign that the British public sides with those taking action to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown, not BP or the Tory party.

From a jury in the heart of England, this could not make it clearer where the public lies on the need to end fossil fuels and protect all life.

Featured image via Just Stop Oil

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