Kairos with the Frontline Club: The Assault on Protest Rights in the Courts
Thursday November 16th
Drinks in the Frontline Club bar from 6.30pm; Talk starts at 7pm
Please note: This event is at the Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, Paddington, London W2 1QJ
The government is taking an increasingly punitive approach to climate protesters, and so are our courts.
The Policing Act (2022) and the Public Order Act (2023) both introduced new offences and harsher punishments that significantly curtail the right to protest. Private injunctions by government agencies have been used to bypass the criminal courts and impose prison sentences on protestors for non-custodial criminal offences.
In the Crown Courts, following a pattern of surprise acquittals by juries, judges have forbidden defendants from referring to climate change to explain their motivation to jurors, and imprisoning those who defy the ban.
In protest, last March 68 year-old Trudi Warner stood outside Inner London Crown Court with a sign stating that jurors have a right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience - a legal principle established over 300 years ago and enshrined in a plaque at the Old Bailey.
Trudi is now being prosecuted for contempt of court. If found guilty, she could be sentenced for up to two years. Over 200 people who displayed similar signs outside courts across the country could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.
Does this assault on protest rights in the courts signal a broader erosion of our political freedoms? Are ancient jury rights under threat? And what can we do about it?
Raj Chada is solicitor at Hodge Jones and Allen who is acting for Trudi Warner and has defended 100s of protestors including Extinction Rebellion’s Shell 7, the Colston 4, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil, among others.
Sandra Laville was the crime editor of the Guardian for six years. She is now the environment correspondent and has been following developments in the courts.
Cathy Eastburn is a musician, mum and activist, including with Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil and most recently Defend Our Juries.
The discussion will be chaired by Dr Roger Harrabin, Honorary Fellow at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and for 35 years environment specialist at the BBC.
The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, Paddington, London W2 1QJ
Doors and drinks at 6.30pm. The talk will start at 7pm, followed by drinks in the Frontline Club bar.
£5 Kairos members (please email events@Kairos.London once you've booked so that Frontline has your name on the door), £15 non-members.