Extinction Rebellion activists cleared by jury after sparking 77 mins of rush hour chaos

Reverend Sue Parfitt and Father Martin Newell caused up to 77 minutes of disruption after they climbed on the roof of a rush-hour train at east London’s Shadwell station in October 2019. Philip Kingston was also part of the protest and glued himself to the train.

Now, a jury has cleared the three Extinction Rebellion activists by a jury at Inner London Crown Court on Friday.

The three protesters – members of Christian Climate Action – were facing charges of obstructing an engine or carriage on the railway, which they denied.

On Wednesday, Mr Newell told a jury his “deepest motivation” was his Christian faith.

He told the court: “There’s a climate emergency which is an existential threat to the human race and… this was the best way I could think of at that time to draw attention to it and get the government to take the urgent action that’s needed.

“Jesus taught us the most important commandment was to love God and love your neighbour, and Pope Francis said the Earth is our neighbour, and I would agree with that and he said the Earth is being abused and we have to stop it.”

Jurors heard Ms Parfitt and Mr Newel said prayers while they were on the roof for about 45 minutes.

They reportedly tried to talk to passengers and then continued their protest in silence, the court was told.

The protest sparked 77 minutes of disruption with 15 DLR trains delayed or cancelled.

But no trains were stuck inside the tunnels, the jury was told.

This was partly because, according to the activists, they had planned the demonstration to ensure there was no risk to public safety.

Measures included targeting a station above ground and having 10 more Extinction Rebellion activists on the platform to ensure violence did not break out.

In April last year, six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters despite the judge directing jurors they had no defence in law.

More to follow…