Extinction Rebellion: Jury acquits protesters despite 'no defence in law' direction

 Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been cleared of causing criminal damage, despite jurors being told by the judge there was no defence in law.

Climate activists targeted oil company Shell's London headquarters on 15 April 2019, claiming the company was directly contributing to climate change.

It was part of wider demonstrations across the capital on that day.

Judge Gregory Perrins said that even if the actions were "morally justified", that did not provide a lawful excuse.

The six acquitted at Southwark Crown Court were:

  • Simon Bramwell, 49 (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion) from Stroud, Gloucestershire
  • Ian Bray, 53 (co-founder) from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
  • Jane Augsburger, 55, from Stroud
  • Senan Clifford, 60, from Stroud
  • David Lambert, 62, from Stroud
  • James "Sid" Saunders, 41, from Stroud

A seventh protester, Katerina Hasapopoulous, 43, from Stroud, earlier pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage.

With the exception of Mr Saunders - who claimed he honestly believed Shell's employees and shareholders would have consented to the damage he caused - the judge had told the jury: "They don't have any defence in law for the charges they face."

After deliberating for just over seven hours, the jury of seven women and five men cleared them of all charges.

The six, who represented themselves, were also cleared of individual counts of having an article with intent to destroy or damage property.

image captionGraffiti on Shell's London headquarters in April 2019

They told the court they had targeted the Shell building because the company was directly contributing to climate change, "thereby causing serious injury and death".

They argued their actions were a "necessary" and "proportionate" response to the harm being caused.

Prosecutor Diana Wilson had told the court that each of the defendants deliberately sprayed graffiti or smashed windows at the Shell building in Belvedere Road, central London.

Ms Wilson said that while some protesters stood outside the building holding banners or speaking through megaphones, "these defendants went further".

She added: "The seven involved caused significant damage."

Before reaching their verdicts, the jury had asked to see a copy of the oath they took when they were sworn in.

Thanking jurors for their "care and attention", the judge said: "This has been an unusual case."

Hasapopoulous, from Stroud, will be sentenced at a later date, but Mr Bramwell afterwards said she had only pleaded guilty because of child care issues.

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