Senan Clifford, Sid Saunders, Simon Bramwell, Jane Augsburger, David Lambert, Ian Bray
The seventh defendant, Katerina Hasapopoulous, 43, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial because she was not allowed to have her young child with her at court.
The below speeches are supplied by the defendants themselves and may not reflect exactly what was said to jurors.
For full report on the verdict read this Guardian article from 23rd April
Ian Bray, 53 (Extinction Rebellion co-founder) from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
I’m very privileged to be here and aware this work is overseen. I’m going to read this speech because I don’t do speeches, and I’m just going to take a moment to look at you because I want to really see you and for you to really see me.
“Lord, take my soul, but the struggle continues.”
These were the last words of Ken Saro-Wiwa just before he was executed in the 90s at the behest of Shell. “One small part of that struggle is going on here today in this courtroom – and I hope I’m worthy to carry that – and now pass it onto you.”
Quakers refuse all oaths, as an oath is primarily with God. Some would say that if an oath is taken, it is only binding if it is freely entered into. In the past Quakers have been imprisoned for this refusal in English courts of law because of the implication of two standards of truth when there is only one. Oaths have had a long history in England of being used coercively.
To use some more Quaker ideas, I hope I’ve ‘lived adventurously’ enough to speak a small amount of ‘truth to power’ and that my body has stopped the wheels turning just long enough for us to be here.
It certainly feels to be what love requires of me at this time.
I’m sorry to load you with this burden of decision that you did not volunteer for and may not feel comfortable with. I appreciate that we can’t all know the outcome and value of our decisions as we live and make them – but sometimes they have to be made regardless.
There are no courts of morality, only courts of law, so we find ourselves here with all the risks that entails. We are not above the law but subject to it.
Ms Wilson has spoken of ‘anarchy’ and somewhat surprisingly for a legal professional has used the word in its incorrect sense of ‘leading into chaos’ when it actually means “without leaders”, and I wonder why that has been done?
The true implication of anarchy is that everyone takes full responsibility for their own actions. The Quaker church has no clergy or formal leadership and we are each accountable for our own actions – and these actions are held in the light by others.
Ms Wilson implied that we would all be better to abdicate all responsibility for the future – and justice – to the UK government. My experience of working with refugees, those rendered stateless by the UK Government – the homeless – the disabled – and from campaigning against the arms industry suggests that this delegation of responsibility is unwise.
Indeed others here have referred to the governments three losses in court to Client Earth for breaking its own laws.
In taking personal responsibility for our actions, and acting conscientiously in pursuit of justice, we are making ourselves subject to the law – and the force of the law – by being here.
After going through this process, I am still much more afraid of climate change than I am of arrest or sanction.
I hope the story I told about international lawyer, Farhana Yamin, who I pointed out in court with us, who felt despondent at the chances of progress – even after helping write the Paris Agreement, which was supposed to be legally binding upon governments – has at least begun to show the limitations of conventional methods of achieving change.
In essence you’ve been shown the narrow – and specific – legal arguments of the prosecution and we have offered a moral response that is broad and nuanced. Unfortunately, you only have a binary choice to show where the judgement should lie between these two approaches.
So I humbly rest this decision with all of you as the representative conscience of the people and I hope you can engage in a gentle and fulfilling discussion. I realise this may not be not a clear cut choice, but it’s a choice that has to be made.
I submit to your judgement.
Ad lib Quotes
“The law makers are breaking their own laws.”
“The existing methods of achieving change are not working.”
David Lambert, 62, from Stroud
Dear members of the jury
As I said before, thank you for being here; thank you for all the attention you have given us especially when so much of what has been talked about is so upsetting. I am sorry we have had to share it with you in this way rather than in more sympathetic circumstances.
I had not appreciated what a ‘jury of your peers’ really means until you all walked in here, and I have to say that I am glad that a verdict on what we did is entrusted to you. You are our community, and I am glad of it. It may sound unlikely standing here in the Crown Court but there is nowhere I would rather be, sharing with you what Polly Higgins, the lawyer behind the ecocide campaign, called the great work of our time. I feel confidence – not about your verdict, which is for you alone – but confidence in sharing this crisis with you.
For that is what this is. We are sharing this crisis with you. By undertaking an action that would result in our being judged by a jury, we are seeking justice not from the law but a verdict from our community – were we right or wrong, was our action justified or not? If the climate emergency is what we believe it is, and neither the judge nor the prosecution has raised any dispute about the mass of evidence on the climate emergency we have imposed upon you, what then should we do? Were we wrong to think that we are being failed by government, by business and the media, and – in this specific crisis – also being failed by the law? And if not, if we are right, then what can we all, as ordinary people, do together to remedy that? We are not here to insist we know best; we are here to share this question with you.
Our case is not strong in law but we feel it is strong in conscience: we would not be here if we had not acted on the basis of our conviction that we must do whatever it takes to make government recognise the emergency for what it is – not just a phrase for politicians’ speeches, but a barely imaginable horror, no longer on some distant horizon, but unfolding in real time in the real and beautiful world all around us.
Members of the jury, on the face of it, this case is open and shut. With one or two minor exceptions, we do not dispute the prosecution evidence about what we did, and you have seen the evidence. We did intentionally and deliberately cause that damage. In law this is the simplest of cases; there is now officially no defence, there is nothing for you to discuss.
But I hope that, having listened so patiently to all the evidence, you do not find this case open and shut. I hope you agree that it is not simple at all. I hope that you will decide you must listen to your conscience as we have listened to ours, and that you will be in that jury room arguing, yes, they did the damage, but yes, Shell are the real criminals, yes, the government is allowing business as usual to lead us over a cliff edge, and yes, the future is being stolen from our children and our descendants. And I hope you feel like I did in September 2018, when I heard that talk about the science: oh my god, I had no idea. And so then I hope you too will be thinking, what can I do now, with this moment I have been given?
You have been told that what we said to you by way of defence, or reasons, or excuse or explanation is not admissible in law. HH has allowed us to give our evidence about why we acted as we did, he has allowed you hear that evidence, but he has now told us and you that, whatever you may have thought about those motives and explanations, there is no legal defence for what we did. There may be no legal defence but obviously you cannot unhear all the evidence you have heard.
What HH has not said is that, because there is no defence in law, therefore you must find us guilty. The prosecution has said you must, but that is their job; he has not. She has given both you and us careful guidance on the law on the legal framework around criminal damage. And you have sworn to give a true verdict according to the evidence you have heard. But HH has not told you that you must find us guilty because, as he has said, he is not permitted to; it is, as he has said, for you to decide. You have the right to find us not guilty, and in these disastrous times, you may feel you have a duty, to act according to your conscience. The decision is yours alone.
You will recall that part of my evidence was that the law as it stands is failing to protect us and to protect life on earth. I have told you we broke the law because in this area the law is broken and our actions in April 2019 were intended to demonstrate that failure. Nothing has changed; those temperatures are still rising, the weather is still getting more dangerous and life-threatening, and the government still has no emergency plan; the climate emergency has never made it to the government’s famous COBRA committee which, if you remember regularly met to decide how to deal with coronavirus.
We hope you will agree that the damage we caused was negligible compared to the damage being perpetrated by Shell. We hope you will agree we acted carefully and consciously, with love and with grief rather than with anger or malice. We hope you understand that we acted solely to raise the alarm; we had nothing to gain. We hope you believe that the situation is deadly serious and that you could make a difference by finding us Not Guilty.
I have referred in my evidence to what I know about the climate breakdown and the urgency of the threat it poses. That is, the evil I believe I acted to avoid. The prosecution has referred to this as subjective, as if it is just a personal belief, like bananas taste nicer than oranges. I hope you agree that the overwhelming scientific agreement on the climate emergency and the chorus of eminently reasonable voices crying out for action, constitute not just a personal belief but a stark and terrible reality. This stuff is real; it is really happening: we need government and business to tell the truth and act as if the truth is real.
Members of the jury, we are all here together in a moment of history. Last year, we saw what an emergency looked like and what a government can do, spending billions to protect the population. The climate emergency is covid to the power of ten, of a hundred, a thousand. The warnings are all around us. We are living in a pivotal moment, everything is falling apart. This plane we are all on is coming down: do we nosedive or do we seek ways to prolong the glide and find some way to crash land and save as many lives as possible?
While our government – like all governments – avoids serious action, what can you or I do for our families, for our communities, for communities all across the world? All the experts say, recycling our rubbish, or buying a bike, or even going vegan, is not going to cut it – only action at a government scale will work. But today, there is something you can do.
Senan has already referred to Winston Churchill – how the suffragette Theresa Garnett, beat him with a horsewhip on Bristol station platform. I looked it up: as she did it, she said ‘Take that, for the insulted women of England.’ He was Home Secretary at the time – imagine that! Churchill may not have understood the cause of women’s suffrage, but he did understand the need to act when faced with a real threat of death and serious injury, with the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. In 1936 he gave a speech in Parliament in which he said:
Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger … The era of procrastination [putting-off], of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients [manoeuvres], of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences … We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.
We cannot avoid it, we are in that period of consequences right now. What do we do, what do we all do – you, me, HH, Ms Wilson and Ms Matthews?
Members of the jury, all of us in this courtroom are together facing a terrible threat to life on earth. Please trust to your conscience as we have trusted to ours. We acted to save life. If you find us not guilty you too will be acting with the same simple purpose.
Jane Augsburger, 55, from Stroud
…It took the suffragettes 50 years to win the vote and they had to break all the windows in Oxford Street to do it. I was filled with the adrenaline one would have if you are 20 years late for the most crucial meeting of your life when I broke the windows of the shell building.
We have been branded as criminals who are interested in their own personal agenda despite our continued evidence to the contrary we are protesters and we are protectors.
I don’t rely on my own opinion, I am informed by those who are much more knowledgeable than I am. I have informed myself at the highest level, the United Nations whose information is backed by scientific data collated over longer than 40 years.
At the moment vandalism to private property is illegal but vandalism to our planet is not illegal. My protest was to emphasise that the vandalism to our planet is not illegal.
The oath that you take does not say you must find us guilty in fact the judge says no one can compel you to return guilty verdicts. We are equal before the law; we do not wish to force our views. It is a matter of our government and the government has spoken for instance John Gummer has made his views clear, he says that action must happen now.
The prosecution have not contested the climate emergency or that our government must act now. No one has questioned the conviction of our belief.
To put it very simply every other avenue has been tried and no one is taking the big steps that urgently need to be taken. We have taken some steps and I invite you to take a step for our planet too.
If you choose to find me not guilty do it not to be kind but to choose as I have chosen to put our children and our Earth planet first. I ask you to find me not guilty.
This has nothing to do with what we like. We are not doing this for enjoyment it is very hard to be the messenger of the truth about the climate emergency. We have taken it upon ourselves to tell the truth, to protect the Earth just as citizens had protected Jews from Germany or slaves escaping from slavery.
Is it naive to want to preserve our home planet?
James “Sid” Saunders, 41, from Stroud
Members of the jury once again I am very grateful for your patience and attention.
I am the last of us to speak and as such I feel a sense of weight and responsibility to close up well.
I believe that we all operate within a higher natural universal law, that we feel in our being what is right or wrong, we feel it in our hearts, and in line with our conscience.
To live well, we must try to do the right thing.
All ancient cultures, religions and philosophies and indeed modern day psychology recognise this.
These authorities state the truth that we all want to be truly deeply peacefully happy.
For this to happen we have to feel good about ourselves, we desire to feel free from suffering, of physical pain and emotional pain, like guilt, shame or regret.
I seek to apply the higher natural universal laws in my day to day life, I do this especially when undertaking something of significance, to ensure that my actions are in alignment with my conscience. To ensure that I’m in right service and therefore aligned with the higher natural universal laws.
In doing this before the Shell action, I considered the reaction of the people of Shell and concluded that they would welcome my action.
For the people of Shell who are already aware of the impending end of everything they hold dear, their families, food and home securities, jobs and life as they know it. I believe they would want every assistance to enable as rapid as possible change in direction, away from ecocide and climate change.
After all, I believe the door entrance inconvenience, and proportional costs of 3p are insignificant, in relationship to the value of our messages going viral on the world’s media.
The people of Shell operating without knowing that they are causing harm, I believe they would want to have their direct involvement stopped in the process of societal collapse, not only because it is their lives and futures being destroyed too, but also due to the crippling emotional traumas that they would forever be feeling.
The prosecution have alleged that I have lied in this belief, I have shown in all my evidence that I consistently act in line with my moral beliefs, indeed the judge acknowledges as such, saying that my good character supports my credibility, when I tell you that I believe that Shell would have given me permission to carry out this action.
As stated above and in my defence, we know we have to do the right thing in life, or in a moment, by acting in line with our conscience.
I knew that I had to try as hard as I could to ask Shell to stop the everyday harm, the everyday death that Shell are responsible for, in the most powerful way that I could.
Now I ask that you members of the jury, please act to do what you can do to help.
Decades of campaigning, marching, petitioning have not resulted in governments heeding the science.
This is not about my political philosophy, this is way beyond politics, this is about avoiding a collective catastrophe.
I felt compelled to act, I had to act, to take collective action, the ‘legal avenues’ open to me had not worked, and history demonstrates that disruptive peaceful direct action would achieve results.
As it so clearly has done in this case, by the declaration of climate emergency and the normalisation of ecocide as a concept like genocide.
What was once illegal is now legal, the conscientious objectors who refused to bear arms, who were imprisoned and shot in the first world war according to the law, resulted in the law being changed, indeed it was the precursor of the universal declaration of human rights.
The Suffragettes who were imprisoned and ridiculed, ensured the law was changed to enable woman to vote, enabling women to take their place in civil society, indeed in this court today prosecuting me!!
Members of the jury, at this moment of consequence, where we risk losing everything we cherish, when no one is coming to save us, please trust to your conscience as we have trusted to ours.
So, members of the jury, I put it to you.
When your grandchildren ask you: why didn’t your generation do more, to stop our planet being destroyed? What do you want to say?
Or when people in fifty or a hundred years look back at us, like we look back at the Suffragettes, or at the people who resisted slavery, which side will they see as being the right side of this argument?
And when history considers us, which side do would you like to be on?
I believe that I am not guilty, and I believe that my co-defendants are not guilty.
We acted to save life, if you find us not guilty you too will be acting with the same simple purpose.
Senan Clifford, 60, from Stroud
Good Afternoon – I am here to give you my closing speech – my summing up of the case. You have heard the Judge outline how the Law sees it, and the Prosecutor has told you their views – that you must find us guilty. These are my comments on all the evidence – and it is the evidence you will be judging me on, and I believe that when you hear this you will see that you must find me, us Not Guilty.
First I wish to say ‘I’m Sorry’. It’s something I have said a lot these last couple of years, since I became aware of the emergency we face.
I am sorry – sorry that we are in such a terrible place – such an awful emergency.. things are so bad. I am really very sorry about that.
But then I am also very sorry that I have now made you all aware of information – the dangers we are facing, the future we are heading into… You now have to live with the knowledge that it’s not all ok.. that in fact it’s terrible, and the future we face is most probably going to be pretty grim, and very grim in fact for so many – deadly even.
That is not good news! I’m sorry to have been the bringer of such terrible news.
But you need to know the truth, to be able to judge my actions and all the evidence in this trial.
I will start by reminding you of some of the evidence I provided, in my defence.
- Regarding my actions on the 15th April 2019, I told you what I did – how I helped plan the action, to be as effective as possible, to get as much media attention as possible, to get as much public attention for the Rebellion it was part of as possible. To act safely, non-violently, and responsibly, and being prepared to be arrested for my actions.
- I have been charged with ‘criminal damage at the Shell Building…being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged’. – but I gave evidence that I was not reckless or careless regarding the effects of my actions – I was careful, considered and took responsibility for what I did. The prosecution have not shown any evidence that I behaved recklessly.
- I gave evidence about how we messaged our action to highlight the contrast between our actions aiming to save lives, by doing some non-permanent graffiti, compared to Shell’s deadly, uncaring destruction of whole environments, such as in Nigeria or the Tar Sand Oil fields in Canada, asking ‘Who were the Real Criminals?’
- The graffiti included some important public information facts about Shell’s criminal behaviours, how Shell knew about climate change, how dangerous it was, and yet covered it up and lied about it, so they could carry on drilling for more oil, to make more money – not caring about the deaths this was causing.
- Contrasting Shell’s treatment as a pillar of society, loved by governments, a headquarters next door to parliament!, and our treatment – arrested for raising the Alarm! Yet we hurt nothing and profited nothing!
- I told how we worked together to press the emergency button – breaking windows as the suffragettes had.. to demand a law of Ecocide to protect Life on our Planet! A missing Law, so Shell and others are allowed to destroy the land, poison the water, pollute the air, and even kill the people living there.
- And the whole point of this action, and of the whole rebellion was to Tell the Truth, so that our Government would have to start to Act – and thereby we were trying to save lives. We didn’t stand to gain anything ourselves – it wasn’t a political stunt – we are trying to save lives.
My defence that I am not guilty of a crime relies on my beliefs that there are good reasons why I needed to do these things. That by doing this action I was doing my best in the circumstances we find ourselves in, to save lives and prevent further serious injuries to people. And these circumstances are exceptional…
- So, I gave evidence of how I have been aware of CO2 emissions – Greenhouse gases they were called, and the Greenhouse Effect they were causing.. overheating our earth.. in the 1990’s.
- I have known about, and followed everything about Climate Change, as it then became, learning about the science, the effects, the dangers, and the predictions what it could cause.. for the last 30 years..
- The prosecution accused me of ‘becoming an expert witness’ in my defence – and I think I am sort of one.. self-made..
- I gave evidence of how our scientists – the real experts – have been calling Emergency! for 30 years.. desperately so for 20 years – and panicking for 10!!
- I explained how serious I believed it all to be – because I believed these scientists! These experts, thousands of them, world-wide – all saying the same thing. Act Now!
- The United Nations Climate Change committees and Conferences, all saying the same thing – Act Now! They’ve been saying this for 30 years! Without success – fossil fuel gases continue to be pumped out into the air, building the greenhouse, trapping more and more heat, leading to more and more severe weather and more and more climate disasters!
- I’d like to remind us of that Hockey-stick curve.. please can you get it from the sheets I gave you.. showing how we are now in a world our ancestors, our societies, humankind, has never had to deal with.. it shows how we are in a totally new, and very dangerous situation.
- An Emergency – that demands drastic Emergency Action.
- I gave evidence of all the leaders, scientists, environmentalists, experts, politicians, everyone – saying we must Act Now – That every day we delay drives us further into a future we must avoid – a future of famines, floods, wars, fires, forced-migrations.. and deaths. Deaths of not just people, but extinction of much of all of life, animals, insects, plants, fish – everything in fact that we depend on for so much..
- The prosecution have stated that there’s no dispute over the facts of the case, by which they mean the details of what we did on the day, though they fail to recognise why we carried out our actions or the facts behind our actions.
- The prosecution failed to mention this Emergency – which has since been declared by our Parliament, and Councils across the country, and also by parliaments and governing authorities across the world. They failed to recognise that the circumstances in which an act takes place determines whether that act is in fact right or wrong.
- I gave the example in my evidence of a car being driven along a road, faster than the speed limit. And how, without considering the full facts, this seems to be a wrong-doing. And yet if there’s a life-threatening situation or a drastic danger occurring, or the vehicle driver is racing to save a life in an emergency, then this speeding is excusable and not a wrong-doing at all.
- The Prosecution have neither disputed the Emergency that Climate Change poses, nor have they even considered it or the impact it has on the justifications for our actions. That the dangers posed by Climate Breakdown necessitated and justified my attempts to save lives to the best of my abilities – which is what I was doing.
- And notably, The Prosecution have failed to say that my evidence of the facts and dangers we face are anything but compelling! They didn’t dispute any of them. They didn’t say – ‘oh it’s not that bad!’ Because it is! It is that serious! It is that important that we do what ever we can to tackle this massive crisis – the biggest threat David Attenborough describes, that humanity has ever, ever had to face!
- I gave evidence of the facts showing why I believed that our Normal Systems, Business as Usual ways of doing stuff has Failed to meet this Crisis!
- Government looking after business – not people.. only worrying about getting elected, rather than solving long-term problems that might be difficult!
- Lobbying by Big Oil, the fossil fuel companies who had knowingly got us into this crisis, – Money distorts democracy, and blocks action.
- So I believed our Governments had failed to tackle Climate Change. Look at the second graph, showing how emissions still rising, and nothing being done.
- I showed evidence that our Government had failed to function properly to take care of the people, and keep them safe. This is the foundation of their responsibilities – to keep us safe. If they fail to do what is demanded to do this, demanded by their advisors, demanded by scientists, demanded by their children, then this is evidence that they have failed to function properly.
- I believed I had to act! Why did I act?
- Earth Protector – I signed to confirm my role, as a protector of something precious and vital!
- Children’s Future – I acted for my children, my grand-children, all the children I’d taught and looked after in 18 years of teaching.. all the children – they are really asking us adults to Act!
- And I acted for Human-kind – I believe we can do so much better! I have learnt how wonderful people really are, especially when we work together, and look after each other
- I was compelled to Act, to do whatever I could, to do my best..
This is my evidence..
The Judge has explained how you are to try the case according to the evidence..
I have outlined the evidence I gave during the trial, which I believe clearly shows why I feel I am not guilty – these are:-
- I have outlined my beliefs, and the facts that lead me to them. (The science of climate change, and the dangers we face..) and which I sincerely believed..
- These are reasonable in the circumstances, and explain my actions on that day.
- My actions were to save lives and protect people form serious injury, and in these exceptional circumstances, were reasonable; and considering the scale of the risks, were appropriate and were not excessive!
I understand that the Judge has outlined how in the framework of the Law, I have no defence. This relies on the understanding that we do have a functioning state.
The Judge tells us the Law is clear..
The Scientists tell us the science is clear..
Unfortunately the Law is slow to act, and the Science is moving very fast! So whether we have a functioning state or not is immaterial.. there is no time to wait for the law to catch up – I must act now!
My belief that I am not guilty falls outside the black and white framework of the Law – the framework of what is normal, what has been normal. Because these are not normal times any more. We stopped being Normal when emissions rocketed 30 years ago, and especially when our governments failed to act 30 years ago, 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago as they should have done if they were functioning properly.
Either we push our governments and economies RIGHT NOW to ‘stop investing in all fossil fuel industries, directly and indirectly OR we are enabling fossil fuel companies to run our governments and economies for even more decades, allowing them to commit vast ecocides, destroying life-chances for humans and all of nature.
These are the facts in this case, and on which you will have to decide your verdict.
You are here to judge our actions; you – not the court, nor the judge – you are the ultimate judges.. it is your decision.
You took an oath, to try the defendants and to give a true verdict according to the evidence. A true verdict means that you make a conscious consideration of the Law, as the Judge has outlined it, that you think carefully about what he has said.. but that you then do not necessarily follow it! It is your decision.
And I want you to remember, you are also here as representatives for all the people out there, our society.
You are here to see that they get the justice they need! That is what Justice is..
It’s not about what the Crown needs, what Government want, what big business wants.. – it’s about what the people feel is right, is needed, based upon what they know is right; right in their hearts, in their minds, in their consciences.. what is right in your consciences – in these extra-ordinary, and terrifying times.
And you will need to be brave to listen to your selves.
You will need to listen to each other, and this will help you all to be brave – and it is a massive responsibility, representing everyone else.. I urge you to..
– really listen to each other.. give everyone a chance and space to speak their thoughts.. and try to understand each other without jumping to judge what they say..
– take your time – it does take time, and it’s better to get it right, than to be quick! We will all appreciate your taking time and care in such an important matter..
If you feel I have done wrong to our society, by your expectations of right and wrong – and have no doubts about this, you must be sure about it.. – then I am Guilty.
And if on the other hand, you feel I acted justly, with right intentions, and my actions were reasonable and proportionate in these desperate hockey-stick circumstances, then I ask you to be brave and find me not guilty – not just for my benefit, but for all of us..
It’s not about a likeable cause – it’s about life and death.
It’s not about broken windows, it’s about how we face our future, or fail to do so.. as we have failed until now.. and the 1000’s that are paying, have paid for this with their lives!
Please do not be complicit in that, the largest crime of all.
Remembering, today the second anniversary of Polly Higgins’s passing, during the April Rebellion.