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FIVE Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have been fined hundreds of pounds each for committing “criminal damage” at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) headquarters.
The activists were arrested outside the building in Whitehall for spraying slogans and marking the XR symbol in chalk paint as part of the group’s launch last November.
They were demanding government action on deteriorating soil quality and warning that pesticides put food safety at risk.
Yesterday, a judge at Westminster magistrates’ court found the protesters guilty of criminal damage and sentenced them to nine months’ conditional discharge. They will not go to prison unless a repeat offence occurs.
But the group, known as the Defra Five, will have to pay hefty compensation and court fees of £555 each.
They plan to appeal against the verdict and have launched a crowdfunding appeal for financial support.
Defra Five activist Laura Hughes told the Star: “I had hoped that this judge, who is about to retire, could have seen sense. But I guess she only had the law to work with and that is still bent in favour of killing our planet for profit.”
The mother-of-three will be appealing against the judge’s decision on account of the human rights violations that the activists say Defra has committed by disregarding food safety.
Activist Rosie Lancaster said: “Defra are responsible for agricultural emissions not dropping in over 10 years. The courts probably think they’ll find us guilty and this will all go away.
“In 30 years’ time, they will look back and realise what we were trying to do.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported last week that good soil management can capture carbon from the atmosphere and help reduce the impact of flooding and droughts.
You can donate to Extinction Rebellion’s Defra Five’s crowdfunder by clicking here.
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