Sunday, July 21, 2024
The nine Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the court. Image from Extinction Rebellion.

HSBC Canary Wharf Extinction Rebellion protesters found not guilty

Nine Extinction Rebellion protesters found not-guilty for breaking windows at HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf.

Nine Extinction Rebellion protesters, all women, accused of breaking windows at HSBC headquarters at Canary Wharf in April 2021 have been found not guilty. 

The verdict came after a three-week Jury trial at Southwark Crown Court.

During the original protest, the nine women wore patches with the Suffragette slogan ‘better broken windows than broken promises’. They placed stickers on the windows of the bank reading ‘£80 billion into fossil fuels in the last 5 years’. 

They broke the glass windows with hammers and chisels. Following that, they sat down and awaited arrest.

They staged the action to protest HSBC’s activities and investments contributing to climate change.

The nine women found not-guilty are Jessica Agar, Blyth Brentnall, Valerie Brown, Eleanor Bujak, Clare Farrell, Miriam Instone, Tracey Mallaghan, Susan Reid, and Samantha Smithson, aged from 23 to 71 years old.

British fashion designer Stella McCartney CBE lent the nine women outfits for the trial. She also designed the London 2012 Olympics Team GB clothing.

During the trial the jury made several requests for further information. This included an explanation of the Paris Climate Agreement, what the British Government has done to address the climate crisis and how HSBC was able to come up with the estimated damage cost of half a million pounds so quickly.

As well as extensive positive character witnesses the defendants relied on ‘belief in consent’ in their defence. Did the protesters believe the relevant people would have consented to the action if they understood the reason for it?

As put by Eleanor Bujak in her closing argument: ‘There is evidence, plenty of evidence, that ‘consent’ exists within the very systems and structures we are trying to change. Of course it does. Because everyone, including the shareholders of banks, need a liveable planet. When these are the stakes, of course I believed they would consent’.

Climate protesters, including Extinction Rebellion, have been found not guilty in several previous trials despite not disputing their actions. They successfully employed defences such as ‘consent’ in those instances.

Speaking after the not-guilty verdict Clare Farrell, said ‘This was a trial of unusual agreement, the facts of the day were not in any dispute, and the fact that we’re on course for civilisational breakdown and climate collapse seemed strangely not to be in dispute either.’

She added: ‘We must continue, we will.’

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