Climate protesters outside GB News (Picture: Extinction Rebellion)

Encouraged by the government, judges have ripped away one of the defences used by climate and Palestine protesters. It’s yet another Tory attempt to stop activists resisting their murderous policies. The court of appeal decided this week that the “beliefs and motivation” of a defendant do not constitute a lawful excuse for causing damage to a property.

Some protesters have successfully used the defence that they honestly believe the owner of a property would have consented had they known the full circumstances of climate change. Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell, one of nine people acquitted in November of breaking windows at bank HSBC’s London headquarters, said the ruling would “criminalise” protesters.

Tory attorney general Victoria Prentis, who asked the court of appeal to clarify the law after the acquittal of environmental activists last year, welcomed the decision. During the hearing barrister Henry Blaxland argued against restricting the defences that protesters could put forward. 

“This is a matter for the jury,” he said. He told the court that to stop a defendant presenting the defence to jurors “would be a slippery slope to the erosion of the constitutional right to trial by jury”. But the court found against protesters. Sue Carr, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said, “Evidence from the defendant about the facts or effects of climate change would be inadmissible.”

Tim Crosland of campaign group Plan B said the decision was further proof that the state backs the corporations who are destroying the planet. “It must be obvious to every serious observer that British law is being instrumentalised, on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, to silence and repress those taking action to confront the extreme danger from climate breakdown,” he said.

This latest decision follows a series of instructions to juries by judge Silas Reid. On 28 February he told jurors, “The circumstances of the damage do not include any climate crisis which may or may not exist in the world at the moment nor does it include whether nonviolent direct action can prompt change.” 

An earlier attack by Prentis’s predecessor as attorney general, Suella Braverman, removed the right to protest under the European Convention on Human Rights as a defence to criminal damage. Braverman went to the court of appeal after Tory MPs demanded action when a jury acquitted four people for toppling a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

It’s not just environmental protesters who will be caught by the ruling. In December a jury acquitted Palestine Action protesters who defaced a statue of imperialist, antisemite and supporter of Zionism Arthur Balfour in the House of Commons.

One of their defences was that the public would consent to their protest if they were aware of the history and legacy of the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It’s important to stand up for everyone’s protest rights—and to not let the Tories or state scare us from calling out their crimes.

MPs find cash for pay rise

Feeling the squeeze from rising prices? MPs won’t be. They’re cheering a £100 a week pay rise. Their basic pay is to go up from £86,584 to £91,346. The pay rise comes as the average working day for MPs in the House of Commons is the shortest in 27 years. “There’s very little going on day to day,” a Tory minister said recently.

Yet workers who strike are dubbed as “lazy”—and MPs who do little rake in pay rises, as well as subsided fine dining, expenses and ministerial bungs. It’s also a higher pay rise than what the government offered most public sector workers last year.

Politicians always seems to find money to line their own pockets, but not enough to support ordinary people. In contrast, the funding for the NHS in England is set to decrease. When adjusted for changes to the population and inflation the NHS England budget will be 1 percent lower in 2024-2025, according to The Health Foundation.

It’s right to fight climate catastrophe while world leaders do nothing

As climate chaos worsens, the state wants to stop anyone fighting back. Temperatures must be limited to at least 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic climate damage. But for the first time, global warming exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius across an entire year in the period from February 2023 to January 2024. Rather than saving the planet, the state keeps Just Stop Oil (JSO) protesters locked up.

Callum Goode remains remanded in prison after blocking the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this month. They took action to demand the government halts all licensing and consents for new oil, gas and coal projects. The courts denied them bail on Thursday last week and have imprisoned Callum since 6 March.

Another JSO supporter Marcus Decker is one of two men imprisoned for scaling the Dartford Crossing in October 2022. He was released on bail last month, but now faces deportation to Germany. But climate activists aren’t backing down from the fight to defend the environment. On Monday Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists targeted GB News. 

Protesters hurled fake oil outside its main studio’s entrance in London. Another masked activist sat on top of a tripod dangling a Pinocchio-like puppet. Activists branded GB News a “puppet TV station” for the fossil fuel industry. 

Action against the Tories and their backers couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Fifty eight people die in freezing homes every day in winter—and Tory cuts to insulation funding are to blame. Greenpeace placed hundreds of headstones outside parliament to mark the “needless and shocking loss of life” on Wednesday last week. 

This marked the charity’s new report into winter deaths between 2013 and 2023. The report found that since 2013, when then prime minister and now foreign secretary David Cameron began to cut green policies, there have been 70,000 excess winter deaths. 

The Tories slashed subsidies for loft and wall insulation. Government-funded home energy efficiency projects fell by almost 90 percent, from 2.3 million in 2012 to only 300,000 in 2013. The figures underline that direct action protesters Insulate Britain are right about the deadly cost of abandoning environmental policies.

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