News Walthamstow

Prosecute us too, say climate activists as Walthamstow pensioner faces contempt of court charge

40 people sign letter calling on Solicitor General to charge them too if Trudi Warner is held in contempt of court for peaceful protest outside a trial

By Marco Marcelline

The Royal Courts of Justice, Credit: Mahosadha Ong via Unsplash

40 people, including an Olympic gold medalist and a former government lawyer, have called on the Solicitor General to charge them with contempt of court if he prosecutes a retired Walthamstow social worker for protesting outside a trial.

The solicitor general, Michael Tomlinson KC, is currently deliberating over whether to charge a Trudi Warner with contempt of court for holding up a sign outside a trial for climate protesters.

In March Trudi held up a sign stating: “Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.”   

The letter said: “Since we, the undersigned, have taken precisely the same action as Trudi, if you intend to proceed with your application, we invite you to prosecute us too.

“The context for Trudi’s action is a concerted and cynical programme to erode the right to trial by jury, following a series of politically embarrassing jury acquittals of those who have sought to expose government and corporate injustice and oppression.

“In the face of such violations of our ancient liberties, it should come as no surprise that members of the public are ready to take a stand. Such was the context for Trudi Warner’s simple and truthful sign.

“Like Trudi, we are willing to defend the principle of the right to trial by jury … even if it leads to our arrest and imprisonment. We have taken precisely the same action as Trudi on various dates and at various courts.”

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Members of the public have followed in Trudi’s footsteps. In May of this year, 24 people held similar signs outside Inner London Crown Court. The climate activists have all been referred by Judge Silas Reid to the Attorney General.

In July, another 24 people held up the same signs as Trudi Warner’s original outside Isleworth Crown Court.

One of the signatories, Dr Katharine Fallon, a retired GP, said: Dr Katharine Fallon, 60, a retired GP from Windsford in Cheshire said: “I am a mum of two, and a retired GP. We know that 3,200 people died in the UK last July due to extreme heat. In Europe last year, over 60,000 died from heat related illness. Jurors need to hear the truth that rising CO2 emissions cause these heatwaves. When making decisions about defendants who have acted in nonviolent civil resistance to protect everyone, they need to hear defendants explaining why they acted as they did.”

Lawyers have also spoken out against the Michael Mansfield KC said: “Jury trial is the jewel in the crown of the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom and has to be preserved and protected. The right of a jury to return verdicts according to their ‘convictions’ and ‘consciences’ has been enshrined since the trial of two Quakers in 1670 – William Penn and William Mead.

“It has been memorialised with a plaque in the Old Bailey. No defendant and no defence counsel should be prohibited from referencing this paramount feature of our system.”

The Solicitor General’s office was contacted for comment.

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