XR activists cleared over storming Shadwell station in climate change protest

Extinction Rebellion activists Father Martin Newell and Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, outside Inner London Crown Court

Extinction Rebellion activists Father Martin Newell and Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, outside Inner London Crown Court - Credit: PA

Three Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have been cleared over a 2019 stunt which saw them cause 77 minutes of disruption to a busy morning commute.

Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, Father Martin Newell, 54, and former university lecturer Philip Kingston, 85, were unanimously acquitted by a jury at Inner London Crown Court of obstructing the railway following their protest at Shadwell Station on October 17 2019.

Mr Kingston superglued his hand to a DLR train while Rev Parfitt and Father Newell climbed on the roof and said prayers for the planet.

In what they said was an attempt to emphasise the dangers of climate change and the financial institutions whose actions damage the planet, the trio targeted a train which was one stop away from Bank.

The jury heard that halting a train travelling to "the heart of London’s financial district" was designed to symbolise "how business as usual must be stopped".

They were told that activating the train’s emergency alarm was analogous to "sounding the alarm on the climate crisis".

Mike Schwarz, the solicitor from Hodge Jones & Allen which represented the defendants, said: “There is mounting evidence from the courts and in particular from juries that the public is taking the climate crisis and the increasingly urgent need to focus on it far more seriously than government and business.

"This verdict is part of this escalating pattern.”

The trio said they were strongly motivated by their Christian faith, while Mr Kingston said the futures of his four grandchildren also prompted him to take part in the protest.

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Rev Parfitt had previously vowed to continue protesting after being found guilty by a district judge in February 2020 of refusing to obey a police banning order preventing protesters from demonstrating at Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in April 2019.

In April last year, six XR protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London HQ, despite the judge directing jurors at Southwark Crown Court that they had no defence in law.

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