Insulate Britain protesters acquitted

Ruth Jarman and Sue Parfit were amongst four supporters of Insulate Britain who were found not guilty of wilful obstruction of the highway after they partially blocked the road outside parliament before PMQs on Wednesday 12 October 2022. They wanted to express their disapproval of Liz Truss’s stance on climate and to demand that she followed her own advisors’ recommendations to insulate the UK housing stock starting with the poorest households.

The judge said, “I am not here to judge you as an individual, but to decide whether you are guilty or innocent in relation to the law.” They did break the law – section 137 of the Highways Act. But the judge had to balance that with their rights under the European convention on human rights, and the Prosecution has to prove its case – which in the judge’s eyes it didn’t – so the defendants were acquitted.

The Judge took due account of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the right of everyone to freedom of peaceful assembly but said they are not absolute rights. The court has to balance the rights of protesters with the rights of those using the highway and has to decide if the actions of the defendant were restricted by the Highways Act (section 137) which says that if a person wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway without lawful authority or excuse they are guilty of an offence. The prosecution has to prove to a criminal standard that a conviction would not be a compromise of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Judge had to consider if there was a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community. He said the arrests were legal but he had to decide if a conviction would be reasonable and proportionate. The Prosecution did not satisfy the Judge of the defendants’ guilt so he found them “not guilty based on the evidence only”.



Author: Ruth Jarman | Date: 23 October, 2023 | Category: Uncategorized | Comments: 1

Comments on "Insulate Britain protesters acquitted"

Edward Gildea:

October 25, 2023

Wow! Congratulations Ruth and Sue! That is an awesome result! Perhaps even one that sets a precedent in law! Just as awesome is the courage you both displayed in obstructing the road, allowing yourselves to be arrested and putting yourselves through the drama, tension and uncertainty of a trial, with all the perils of a guity verdict. Total RESPECT to you both!

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