Veteran campaigner for human rights, Kumi Naidoo; economist, Ann Pettifor; and others have joined the call on the Crown Prosecution Service to drop their cases against peaceful environmental protesters in an open letter today.
The appeal comes days after a further four cases were dropped at the Old Bailey, citing the UK Supreme Court ruling that says that in some instances protesters have a ‘lawful excuse’ to take certain disruptive actions.
The first call on the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill, was issued on Wednesday from a coalition of UK solicitors who represent activists with the environmental group, Extinction Rebellion.
The letter, also signed by Baroness Jenny Jones, Lord Peter Hain and the Head of Greenpeace UK, reminds us that the UK has a significant responsibility to take action on climate change due to the “legacy of colonialism” which, in Africa, “sees much of the land grabbed for extraction and mining projects that damage the people, their lands, and the prospects of future generations.
Meanwhile, UK firms enable corruption through some of the most sophisticated tax avoidance schemes.”
The letter asks, ”Should the UK put its young people in prison for telling that truth?” citing the case against three environmental protestors (pictured below) who face a possible six months sentence for climbing onto the Houses of Parliament in November last year. They face trial in the City of London this October.
The latest IPCC report released this week has been interpreted as promising “hell on earth” in the next decades if governments do not radically change their policies to protect the environment and bring CO2 emissions to zero.
Mr Naidoo’s letter argues that it is wrong that young, peaceful protestors are being fined, locked up and put through severe mental strain simply for saying exactly what these experts now warn will come true in their lifetimes.
As Lord Peter Hain recently pointed out, “the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison locked herself in a Westminster cupboard in a protest campaigning for equal rights for women. If she had done this today, she too would be prosecuted under the Serious Organised Crime Act. This is not terrorism, these are peaceful actions for a more just world.”
The CPS has come under fire in recent months for “betraying rape victims” which had been attributed to “under resourced CPS staff” but the Ziegler ruling calls into question whether pursuing the prosecution of an estimated 2,500 protesters who have been arrested since April 2019 as part of the Extinction Rebellion environmental movement is not also a dangerous misallocation of resources with a serious, direct effect on the UK public.
On August 4th, Judge Mark Dennis QC overturned the convictions of Robert MacQueen and Rose Goodwin and instructed the CPS to review cases to account for the Ziegler ruling.
The request also follows the acquittals by a jury at Southwark Crown Court of Simon Bramwell, Ian Bray, Jane Augsburger, Senan Clifford, David Lambert, and James Saunders, and the subsequent acquittals of Katie Ritchie-Moulin, Harrison Radcliffe, and Luca Vitale by a District Judge at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court
Next Monday, August 23rd, Extinction Rebellion have promised to take to the streets of London again. Previous so-called rebellions have resulted in thousands of arrests in the space of a single week.