UK court dismisses case against Greta Thunberg over London climate protest

The Swedish climate activist was on trial for protesting outside an oil and gas conference in London in October.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg holds a placard during a demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden [File: Christine Ohlsson/TT News Agency/via Reuters]Published On 2 Feb 20242 Feb 2024

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been cleared of a public order offence over a protest outside an oil and gas conference last year, after a judge in a London court ruled she had no case to answer.

District judge John Law dismissed the case against the 21-year-old Swedish campaigner and four other activists on the second day of their trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

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He ruled that police had attempted to impose “unlawful” conditions during an environmental protest in the British capital last October when they were arrested.

Thunberg, who became a prominent campaigner worldwide after staging weekly protests in front of the Swedish parliament in 2018, was arrested along with dozens of others outside a London hotel where the Energy Intelligence Forum was hosting oil and gas industry leaders.

She and four others, aged between 19 and 59, were also accused of failing to comply with an order by police to move their protest to a designated area near the conference.

Thunberg had pleaded not guilty in November to breaching a public order law, alongside two protesters from the Fossil Free London (FFL) campaign group and two Greenpeace activists.

She also joined a march last weekend in southern England to protest against the expansion of Farnborough airport, which is mainly used by private jets.

‘Remember who the real enemy is’

In advance of Friday’s court ruling, Thunberg lamented about not being able to have a climate strike in London.

“Even though we are the ones standing here, and climate, environmental and human rights activists all over the world are being targeted for their activism, prosecuted, sometimes convicted and given legal penalties for acting in line with science,” she said in a post on the social media platform X.

“We must remember who the real enemy is,” she added.

Addressing the five defendants on Friday, Law said, “You are all found not guilty of this offence.”

In his ruling, he also highlighted that the conditions imposed on protesters were “so unclear that it is unlawful”, which meant “anyone failing to comply were actually committing no offence”.

Greenpeace UK campaigner Maja Darlington hailed Friday’s verdict as “a victory for the right to protest”.

She told the AFP news agency that “it is ridiculous that more and more climate activists are finding themselves in court for peacefully exercising their right to protest, while fossil fuel giants like Shell are allowed to reap billions in profits from selling climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”

Thunberg and her four co-defendants hugged before leaving court.

Source: News Agencies