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Jury clears Christian XR activists who stopped a central London train

CHRISTIAN climate activists, two of whom are over 70, were cleared by a jury today after facing charges for stopping a central London train. 

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. 

The trio had been charged with obstructing the railway following their protest at Shadwell Station in October 2019. 

The action, which saw Mr Kingston super-glue his hand to the train while Rev Parfitt and Father Newell clambered onto the roof, was aimed at disrupting trains at Bank, one step away. 

They said that they had wanted to raise awareness of the finance sector’s contribution to the climate crisis. 

The trio said that they were heavily motivated by their faith to carry out the action, and argued in court that they had been exercising their right to protest under the Human Rights Act. 

The acquittal follows a string of cases in which juries have cleared individuals for charges relating to protest. 

Earlier this month, a jury acquitted four people of criminal damage after they pulled down slaver Edward Colston’s statue during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020. 

And in April last year, six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London HQ despite the judge directing jurors that they had no defence in law.

Following Friday’s verdict, the defendants’ solicitor Mike Schwartz 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.”

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