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With a little help from its friends, Extinction Rebellion runs rings round the law

THE SUNDAY TIMES

With a little help from its friends, Extinction Rebellion runs rings round the law

Juries and judges sympathetic to the climate cause are giving eco-activists an easy ride

Dipesh GadherThe Sunday Times

As he sat in the dock last month awaiting the jury’s verdict, Ian Bray, 53, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, was prepared for the worst.

The salvage worker from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and five other climate change activists had admitted involvement in causing £25,000 damage to Shell’s London headquarters during a protest in 2019 — but had tried to argue that a “bigger crime” was being committed against the environment by the oil giant.

“They don’t have any defence in law for the charges they face,” Judge Gregory Perrins warned the jury at Southwark crown court in south London.

Bray recalled: “I was kind of expecting to sit there and be stitched up.” Instead, the jury of seven women and five men chose to defy the judge’s directions and cleared the six defendants of all charges.
“People were in tears in the courtroom” Bray said.
The unusual outcome preceded a string of court cases involving Extinction Rebellion (XR) members, who are being acquitted on technicalities or handed fines that amount to little more than a slap on the wrist.
“They seem to be running rings around the courts,” said one prosecuting barrister, who asked not to be named. “It’s a shrewd strategy .”
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