Westminster, London, England – Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and four co-defendants were acquitted of charges related to a climate protest outside the InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair. The group was arrested after refusing to follow police instructions to move on during the demonstration on 17 October.
District Judge John Law dismissed the public order charge, citing “no evidence” of any offense being committed, and criticized the police for imposing “unlawful” conditions on the protesters. The judge noted that the conditions were so unclear and restrictive that they were deemed unlawful, and anyone failing to comply with them was not committing an offense.
Thunberg, along with the other defendants, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where their lawyer, Raj Chada, emphasized that the charges against them were rightly dismissed. He criticized the unclear and disproportionate conditions imposed on the protest, stating that they interfered with the right to free speech. Chada also called for the government to stop prosecuting peaceful protesters and mentioned the possibility of civil action against those who prosecuted the case.
During the hearing, the judge highlighted that the protest was peaceful and civilised, and that the police had ample opportunities to implement less restrictive measures to maintain access to the hotel. He criticized the communications between senior and less senior officers, ultimately leading to the dismissal of the defendants’ charges.
The court case brought attention to the issue of climate activism and the rights of individuals to engage in peaceful protest. The decision to acquit Thunberg and her co-defendants raises questions about the authorities’ approach to handling such demonstrations and the balancing of public order with the right to protest. This case serves as a significant example of the intersection between environmental activism and legal actions, shedding light on the complexities and controversies surrounding the issue.