Activists from Bristol have been acquitted in the Crown Court for taking part in Insulate Britain actions, despite being barred from mentioning climate change or fuel poverty in their defence.
Reverend Sue Parfitt, 80, an Anglican priest from Bristol and Benjamin Buse, 37, a research scientist from Somerset were on trial with, alongside two others, for their role in an Insulate Britain road block at Cranford Parkway on the M4 on October 1, 2021.
Following five days in court, the jury took around four hours to deliberate before returning a unanimous verdict, finding the defendants not guilty.
Speaking after the verdict today, Rev Parfitt, who represented herself in court, said: ‘Despite all the odds I am thankful that 12 of my fellow citizens were able to see the bigger picture and even when directed by the judge to find us guilty, they were able to understand that the unprecedented times in which we live calls for us all to step out of the box and make courageous decisions. Thank you jury.
‘I think reasonable people can see that inconveniencing a few people on their way to work does not compare with the appalling threat to humanity caused by the blindness, stubbornness and greed of just a few people, including our government. We must keep on doing our best, giving our all and obeying God’s calling to us.’
The trial, which began on Tuesday, January 3, at Inner London Crown Court, started with Judge Silas Reid ruling that the four defendants have no defence in law against the charge of causing a public nuisance by blocking Junction 3 of the M4 on 1st October 2021. They were each barred from referring to the climate crisis, insulation or fuel poverty during their defence, and were not allowed to discuss their motivations.
Supporters hope that the outcome is a sign of things to come in the 51 pending trials of Insulate Britain activists this year. A total of 56 supporters will be tried on 201 charges of Public Nuisance.
Although greeted with animosity at the time of their actions, the call to insulate Britain has since been taken up by trade associations, social landlords and councils.