Judge tells Just Stop Oil protestors ‘Thank you for opening my eyes to certain things’

Seven Just Stop Oil protestors have been found guilty of aggravated trespass after blocking the distribution of oil from the Esso Fuel Terminal in Birmingham for 12 hours last year. Two others were found not guilty.

What has caught the headlines however are the comments made by Judge Wilkinson in sentencing the group: ‘It’s abundantly clear that you are all good people. You are intelligent, articulate and a pleasure to deal with. It’s unarguable that man-made global warming is real and we are facing a climate emergency. Your aims are admirable and it is accepted by me and the Crown Prosecution Service that your views are reasonable and genuinely held. Your aims are ably and genuinely articulated and are supported by the science.’

He continued: ‘No-one can criticise your motivations. You all gave evidence that was deeply moving. I certainly was moved. The tragedy is that good people have felt so much, without hope, that you feel you have to come into conflict with the criminal justice system.

‘Thank you for opening my eyes to certain things. Most, I was acutely and depressingly aware of, but there were certain things.

‘I say this and I mean this sadly, I have to convict you. You are good people and I will not issue a punitive sentence. Your arrests and loss of good character are sufficient. Good people doing the wrong thing cannot make the wrong thing right. I don’t say this, ever, but it has been a pleasure dealing with you.’

The group were ordered to pay costs of between £250 and £500 and sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge.

The judge concluded: ‘You should feel guilty for nothing. You should feel proud that you care, have concern for the future. I urge you not to break the law again. Good luck to all of you.’

This wasn’t the only unexpected testimonial in the courtroom. On hearing their testimonies, the prosecutor, who had previously described the group as self appointed vigilantes, retracted that comment and conceded the Just Stop Oil supporters were good people’.

One of the protestors, Oliver Clegg, 20, a plant science student from Manchester, said: ‘I never expected that I’d find myself breaking the law, getting arrested and before a judge. However, I also never expected that the government would license new oil, gas and even coal mines, whilst claiming it’s leading the world on the climate crisis’.



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