Suffolk women found guilty after Extinction Rebellion blockade print works
- Credit: PA
Two women from Bury St Edmunds are among six Extinction Rebellion protesters to have been found guilty of blockading regional and national printing presses.
The blockade happened outside the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, on September 4 last year.
The 14-hour protest saw around 50 environmental protesters block the printing works with cars and bamboo structures to deny access.
It caused chaos for the ability of businesses, such as this newspaper, to function – with the national newspaper industry losing an estimated £1million as a result.
National names affected include the Rupert Murdoch-owned titles such as The Sun and Sunday Times, as well as The Daily Mail.
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Those involved were targeting certain parts of the print media who, according to the defendants, “failed to accurately report on the climate crisis and are guilty of corruption”.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided to try six defendants at a time, with Suffolk's Charlotte Kirin and Hazel Stenson among those tried at St Albans Magistrates' Court on Friday, July 16.
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A verdict was expected last month, but judge Sally Fudge postponed the trial to await the outcome of a Supreme Court judgement related to the convictions of four protesters who had locked themselves together outside an arms fair in 2017.
Ms Fudge concluded the police had acted proportionately in arresting the protesters, adding: “The level of disruption caused by the protest was high, and the obstruction of the highway went on for a very long time.
“This was a peaceful protest with no suggestion of damage caused by anybody and no abuse or obstruction of officers. You all spoke in your defence with passion and clarity and it was obvious that you had thought carefully about what you were doing.”
Ms Kirin, 51 and Ms Stenson, 56, were both given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £150 to the court, as well as a £22 surcharge.
Four other defendants faced the same punishment, while another – who had two previous convictions for similar offences – was ordered to pay a financial penalty of £150, a further £150 to the court and a £34 surcharge.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) said it is considering an appeal against the convictions.
In a statement after the hearing, an XR spokesperson said: “We are astonished that Judge Fudge ruled there was no political interference in the police operation, despite overwhelming evidence.
“As floods devastate Europe, another heat dome is building in the United States, and environmental defenders across the world are being silenced, XR will continue to demand that the press tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency.”