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Eighteen climate activists involved in non-violent protests to stand trial next week

TRIALS of 18 climate activists who participated in non-violent action are set to begin next week as the government enforces authoritarian laws curbing the right to protest.

Five Extinction Rebellion activists are accused of causing criminal damage to the European headquarters of the half-a trillion-dollar financial firm JP Morgan, during a protest in September 2021 against its funding of fossil fuel firms. 

Eight Insulate Britain supporters are accused of causing public nuisance by peacefully stopping traffic on the M25 motorway in the same month to press the government to insulate Britain’s homes to end fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions. 

And five Just Stop Oil supporters face trial for alleged conspiracy to cause a public nuisance after they they occupied tunnels close to Grays oil terminal in August 2022 in pursuit for their demand for a halt to all new oil, coal and gas projects.

The trials coincide with fresh government attempts to undermine trials by jury. 

On February 21, the Court of Appeal will consider whether the last remaining legal defence of “belief in consent” should continue to be available to defendants in non-violent direct action cases involving property damage. 

If it is removed, more defendants could find themselves in court without legal defence and prevented from explaining their motives to a jury.

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: “Ordinary people from all walks of life put their safety, liberty and livelihoods at risk to take action on the climate crisis. 

“The story today should be about how the government and media are acting fast to end new oil and gas and prevent collapse. 

“But that hasn’t happened. Instead, we’re hearing about those who took non-violent action being criminalised and punished while corrupt politicians continue to slip away from their responsibilities.”

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said: “It is JPMorgan Chase and banks that continue to fund fossil fuel expansions, in the full knowledge of the death, war and destruction extracting and burning coal, oil and gas are causing, who should be facing criminal proceedings, not a group of women who are doing what they can to defend the lives of their loved ones and peoples around the world.”

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