Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been acquitted of charges of causing criminal damage by a jury despite clear directions from the judge saying that five of them did not have a defence in law.
The activists from the environmental campaign group sprayed graffiti and smashed windows at Shell’s London HQ in April 2019 under the argument that the multinational oil and gas company was directly contributing to climate change.
Prosecutor Diana Wilson said the protesters had ’caused significant damage’, but the defendants argued their actions had been ‘necessary’ and ‘proportionate’ to the harm caused by the company.
Apart from one protester, who claimed he honestly believed Shell’s employees and shareholders would have consented to the damage he caused, Judge Gregory Perrins said that ‘they don’t have any defence in law for the charges they face’, even if they were ‘morally justified’.
The jury, however, still cleared the defendants of all charges, while a seventh protester, Katerina Hasapopoulous, pleaded guilty to the charges of criminal damage and will be sentenced at later date.
It is reported that the April 2019’s protests, which resulted in more than 1,100 arrests, cost the police an extra £7.5m, according to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.