The Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists who stopped a train during a 2019 climate change protest were lawfully exercising their right to peaceful protest, a jury has found.
The Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and Philip Kingston, 85, were all found not guilty of obstructing trains or carriages on the railway under the malicious damages act.
The Anglican priest and two other Christian environmentalists caused 77 minutes of disruption after two of them climbed onto a Docklands Light Railway train’s roof and the other superglued himself to the carriage.
The trio caused the disruption during rush-hour at east London’s Shadwell Station on October 17, 2019, and were told by train passengers “this is an electric train, let us go”.
The three, all also members of Christian Climate Action, an arm of XR, each told the jury they were compelled by their faith to take action to protect God’s creation and prevent run-away climate change.
Mr Kingston said the futures of his four grandchildren also prompted him to take part in the protest.
In what they said was an attempt to appeal to the public and the Government about the dangers of climate change and the financial institutions whose actions damage the planet, they targeted a train which was one stop away from Bank, in the City of London’s financial district .
Some 15 trains were delayed or canceled but none were stuck in tunnels.
They all pleaded not guilty and their defense was that they were exercising their rights to protest under the Human Rights Act and that the protest was lawful.
On Friday, a jury at the Inner London Crown Court cleared the activists of obstructing the railway during the 2019 stunt.
The verdict comes after six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters in April last year, despite the judge directing jurors they had no defense in law.