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Outrage Over Extinction Rebellion Perps Being Cleared For Blocking Railway

extinction rebellion shadwell station

MPs today blasted an ‘outrageous’ decision by a jury to unanimously clear three Extinction Rebellion activists of obstructing the railway on a Docklands Light Railway train – after the group claimed their actions were justified by their Christian faith and fears for their grandchildren.

Politicians called for a jury system review after Judge Silas Reid directed the jury to consider the activists’ right to protest in the European Convention of Human Rights.

Former university lecturer Philip Kingston, 85, Anglican priest Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, and Father Martin Newell, 54, all climbed on top of the train during rush hour.

XR has said that the so-called ‘Shadwell 3’ case was one of a series of trials involving its activists taking place this year in front of a jury – which will prompt concerns over whether the other cases are also likely to result in protesters being feed.

The protesters, who are members of Christian Climate Action within environmental group XR, caused chaos on October 17, 2019, at Shadwell station in East London.

Despite their stunt delaying rush-hour commuters for 77 minutes, the trio denied the charges and opted for a jury trial – the same strategy used by the four ‘Colston Four’ protesters cleared nine days ago over the Edward Colston statue toppling in Bristol.

In their defense, Parfitt said she had felt ‘deeply called by God to do all that I can to avert the catastrophe that is on its way to his whole creation,’ while Newell said he had been asking God while on top of the train to ‘forgive us for what we’ve done.’

The activists also said in their defense that there were a further ten XR protesters on the platform at Shadwell to ensure violence did not break out, and MailOnline has asked the group to clarify whether any of these ten faced criminal proceedings.

Judge Reid had told the jury that protest rights under the European Convention of Human Rights ‘gives them and us the freedom of belief, expression and the right to freedom of assembly’, adding: ‘Are we sure that a conviction of the defendant for obstructing the railway is necessary in a democratic society in the interest of public safety, prevention of disorder or protection of rights and freedoms of others?’

Reacting to today’s verdict, Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith told MailOnline this afternoon: ‘The selfish actions and egos of these individuals prevented people from getting to work to provide for their families, children from attending school, wasted the time of our emergency services and put people’s lives at risk.

‘I don’t see that as being a particularly Christian thing to do. Whilst I would always defend the jury system, it clearly needs a review, and this outrageous decision has given the green light to people looking to commit all manner of appalling crimes in the name of religion to justify their extreme political ideologies.’

Today’s verdict will fuel concerns that police could stop arresting protesters or the Crown Prosecution Service could stop charging them with crimes if there is a general expectation that they will be freed – and that all those who do end up in court will demand a jury trial because they have a greater chance of being let off.

Kingston, Parfitt, and Newell were charged with obstructing an engine or carriage on the railway but were cleared by a jury at Inner London Crown Court this morning.

If the DLR protesters had been found guilty at a magistrates’ court under section 36 of the Malicious Damage Act 1861, they would have faced up to six months in prison.

This would have increased to two years imprisonment if they were convicted at a crown court. The trio would have also each faced an unlimited fine at either court.

The DLR train which was traveling from Lewisham to Bank was about 70 percent full of passengers – and the court heard the protest caused 77 minutes of disruption.

Read rest at Daily Mail

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