Four Extinction Rebellion activists were acquitted yesterday at City of London Magistrates’ Court following a finding that the condition they were alleged to have breached during the April Extinction Rebellion protests had been imposed unlawfully.
Three of the defendants were represented by Bindmans and one self-represented. Yesterday’s decision follows two successful judicial reviews which resulted in the High Court ruling that conditions imposed on assemblies connected to Extinction Rebellion in London on 8th and 14th October 2019, were unlawful. The consequence of yesterday’s judgment is that to date, three of the conditions imposed on Extinction Rebellion assemblies between April 2019 and October 2019, have been held to have been unlawfully imposed by Police.
The defendants were charged with failing to comply with a condition imposed by Superintendent McMillan on 15 April 2019. The condition in question was imposed at 1855 hours on 15 April 2019 and prevented activists connected to Extinction Rebellion from assembling at Waterloo Bridge. This condition was the first of a number imposed by Senior Officers during the two-week-long April “Rebellion”. During this time over 1000 activists were arrested and subsequently prosecuted for offences contrary to section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986. Yesterday’s decision on the lawfulness of the first section 14 condition imposed represents the first of its kind and arose from evidence given by Superintendent McMillian as to matters he considered when he imposed the condition.
Ella Jefferson, one of the three Solicitors acting for those represented, said:
It is so important that when the Police make decisions that ultimately interfere with an individual’s right to protest, they are acting within the framework of the law. This decision, as well as the recent successful judicial reviews relating to the two October 2019 section 14 conditions, suggests that the police are not currently doing this.
The defendants were represented by Ella Jefferson, Patrick Ormerod and Mike Schwarz of Bindmans LLP and Tim James-Matthews of Matrix Chambers.