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Activists jailed for voicing motives

Climate change protesters appeal their silencing with support from Good Law Project
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Insulate Britain demonstration at Bishopsgate, Oct 2021

Two climate change protesters, who were sentenced to seven weeks in jail after telling a jury their reasons for taking peaceful action, are challenging that they were found in contempt of court, thanks to Good Law Project.

Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis were given custodial sentences of seven weeks in prison by Inner London Crown Court last month after they disobeyed a judge’s order not to refer to climate change or fuel poverty as their motivation for blocking traffic with the group Insulate Britain.

Good Law Project believes it is in the interest of the public to stop the silencing of protesters and will argue that the court was wrong to have withdrawn the protesters’ defences and limited what they could say to the jury. 

‘We cannot celebrate the protests of the suffragettes yet stand by and do nothing as people protesting peacefully against climate change are silenced and punished by increasingly repressive laws and judicial system.

‘We hope the Court of Appeal will put an end to these disturbing decisions that silence climate protestors and undermine the crucial role both protest and jury trial play in upholding our democracy.’

Legal manager at Good Law Project

In contempt of court

Amy Pritchard, 37, and Giovanna Lewis, 65, were on trial for causing a public nuisance after sitting in the road to block traffic between Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street in Central London on 25 October 2021.

Jurors failed to agree a verdict on their trial but the protesters were found in contempt of court and given seven week prison sentences after they addressed juries at their trials to speak about climate change and fuel poverty as their reasons for the direct action.

‘The judge’s order to keep silent about our motivations is outrageous, and I could not follow it. I think this judge’s decision, and the direction it moves us in, is deeply disturbing.’

Appellant and activist

Don’t mention climate change…

Inner London Crown Court has been ordering Insulate Britain protesters not to refer to climate change or fuel poverty whilst addressing the jury in their trials, saying that their motivations for acting the way they did had no relevance to what the jury had to decide.

Many campaigners and lawyers have expressed concern at what they believe to be an extension of the more punitive treatment of protesters following the 2022 Police Crime and Sentencing Act.  

‘It is shocking and unbelievable that a UK crown court Judge could, or would even want to, prevent ordinary people from mentioning the words fuel poverty and climate change in a British court of law. Where is the justice when defendants cannot explain their motives, hopes and aims for taking action to save thousands of other people’s lives in the UK and around the world?’

Appellant and activist

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