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  • d.w.golding

Save our Juries

Why, on 4th December 2023, was an octogenarian sitting outside Canterbury Crown Court, in the freezing cold? Read on to find out!


The former archbishop, Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Professor James Hansen (the legendary climate scientist), Sir David King (Former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government), Chris Packham (Wildlife TV Presenter and Conservationist) and 122 others, wrote an:

“Open letter to all people of conscience in response to acquittal of HSBC 9”.

I strongly urge you to read the whole letter – go to:


Deeply moving! But please read on…

“On 16th November, nine women were found not guilty at Southwark Crown Court. Their charge? Taking nonviolent direct action with Extinction Rebellion at the headquarters of one of the worlds’ biggest investors in fossil fuels, HSBC…” But increasingly, we have “judges ruling out mention of climate change at all in recent trials, holding people in contempt when they do. This is a frightening precedent that all who believe in freedom and human rights should condemn.”

AS THE GOOD LAW PROJECT STATES, [https://goodlawproject.org/gagging-juries/] “If juries cannot hear all the evidence, justice cannot prevail... gagging juries poses a threat to our justice system – and to our planet...

“In March, two climate change protestors, Giovanna Lewis and Amy Pritchard, were imprisoned. Not because they had protested, although causing a public nuisance was the offence with which they were tried. On that offence the jury could not reach a verdict. They were imprisoned because they disobeyed a direction from the judge – that they should not tell the jury why they had protested. In telling the jury why, the judge said, they were in contempt of court. And he sentenced them to seven weeks in prison.

“Several weeks later, Trudi Warner, a retired 68-year-old social worker, was ordered to appear at the Old Bailey for contempt. Her alleged crime? Standing outside court she had held up a sign that said 'Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.' Yet juries do have that right – indeed it may be their most important function.”

No wonder that climate and justice supporters across the country are up in arms! Hence the emergence of the “Save our Juries” campaign. And that’s why I could be seen, with others, outside Canterbury Crown Court on 4th December, holding a placard proclaiming, “THE RIGHT OF JURIES… TO GIVE THEIR VERDICT ACCORDING TO THEIR CONVICTIONS” – copied from words etched in stone on the walls of the Old Bailey, in London! At the same time, there were similar actions outside most High Courts throughout England. In every case, the action was peaceful, non-disruptive, silent and lawful.


SOME FINAL WORDS FROM REVD DR ROWAN WILLIAMS and his colleagues:

“The HSBC 9… risked their freedom to try and prevent the bank’s own crimes against humanity, £80 billion in fossil fuel investments in the 5 years since the Paris Climate Agreement.


“While we applaud the jury for recognising these women’s solid defence for taking such action and following their conscience, a collective act of madness is going unchecked both in the UK and across the globe. Those standing up in defence of life on Earth are being criminalised by the UK legal system, while our own government willingly continues to facilitate the destruction of our only home…

“The world stands ablaze in front of us and still global powers choose to risk the death and displacement of billions in pursuit of uncurbed fossil fuel expansion. Global temperatures this September have left scientists the world over shocked to the core. The extraordinary summer heat will make 2023 the hottest year on record, not by a fraction, but by an ‘unprecedented’ margin, with the month of September 1.8C warmer than pre-industrial levels…

“Rounding up people of conscience instead of charging the real criminals is the response of a political and legal system in steep decline, unable to cope or envision a way out of this urgent crisis…

“Until we, the people of Britain, recognise these women and their counterparts as acting in service to life itself, not as villains in a culture war created by the corrupt political class, any hope of tackling the existential climate and ecological crisis in a way that is fair and just will be fraught. Until we hold to account the real criminals, those political and business leaders who continue to turn the cogs of the fossil fuel economy and divide people for their own ends, humanity will not advance towards a future of genuine hope, prosperity and justice…

“It is now incumbent upon all good people of conscience to rise up as these women have, to pull together and find our collective power. We must all take the most effective action we can, find our courage and work in firm opposition to the dereliction of our only home.”

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