extinction rebellion
© Getty
Graffiti was left on Shell's London headquarters in April 2019
Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been cleared of causing criminal damage, despite a jury being told by the judge there was no defence in law for their actions.

Activists targeted Shell's London HQ, claiming the oil firm was directly contributing to climate change.

It was part of wider demonstrations across the capital on 15 April 2019.

Judge Gregory Perrins said that even if their actions were "morally justified", that did not provide a lawful excuse.

Comment: Were their actions even morally justified? Because it's quite clear that the science on our changing climate is still definitely up for debate.

extinction rebellion

The defendants said they believed their actions had been "necessary" and "proportionate"
Southwark Crown Court had heard that each of the defendants deliberately sprayed graffiti or smashed windows at the Shell building in Belvedere Road, central London.

The six acquitted activists were:
  • Simon Bramwell, 49 (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion) from Stroud, Gloucestershire
  • Ian Bray, 53 (co-founder) from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
  • Jane Augsburger, 55, from Stroud
  • Senan Clifford, 60, from Stroud
  • David Lambert, 62, from Stroud
  • James "Sid" Saunders, 41, from Stroud
With the exception of Mr Saunders - who claimed he honestly believed Shell's employees and shareholders would have consented to the damage he caused - the judge had told the jury: "They don't have any defence in law for the charges they face."

After deliberating for just over seven hours, the jury of seven women and five men cleared the defendants of all charges.

Before reaching their verdicts, the jurors had asked to see a copy of the oath they took when they were sworn in.

The six, who represented themselves, were also cleared of individual counts of having an article with intent to destroy or damage property.

Comment: But, as we can see from the picture above, they quite clearly damaged property.

They told the court they had targeted the Shell building because the company was directly contributing to climate change, "thereby causing serious injury and death".

They argued their actions were a "necessary" and "proportionate" response to the harm being caused.

Prosecutor Diana Wilson had told the court that while some protesters merely stood outside the building holding banners or speaking through megaphones, "these defendants went further".

She added: "The seven involved caused significant damage."

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge thanked the jurors for their "care and attention", adding: "This has been an unusual case."

A seventh protester, Katerina Hasapopoulous, had previously pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage. The 43-year-old, from Stroud, will be sentenced at a later date.

After he was cleared, Extinction Rebellion co-founder Mr Bramwell said she had only pleaded guilty because of childcare issues.