Climate threat a ‘lawful excuse’ for criminal damage, court rules

Image: Angela Ditchfield // Facebook

Friday, November 1, 2019

An Extinction Rebellion protester has been acquitted of criminal damage charges after a court ruled that she had a “lawful excuse” to deface Cambridgeshire County Council HQ.

Angela Ditchfield, 41, admitted spray painting graffiti onto the building during demonstrations last December but pleaded not guilty to the offence.

She argued that she was preventing immediate damage to property by the effects of environmental change.

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court ruled in her favour and said she had acted “on the spur of moment to protect land and homes under threat from climate change”.

Ms Ditchfield, who is standing as a Green Party candidate for Kings Hedges, said more people need to use civil disobedience to demand government action.

“I’ve tried all the democratic means and they weren’t achieving enough alone. We need more people using civil disobedience to force all levels of government to take the need for climate justice seriously.”

WATCH: Extinction Rebellion's autumn protest in London

According to Extinction Rebellion, solicitor Raj Chada, who defends many of the group’s activists, said the ruling was a “wake up call to the judiciary”.

Last month, more than 1,800 protesters from the environmental campaign group were arrested during a two-week demonstration that brought London to a standstill.

Police attempted to cut the “Autumn Uprising” short by imposing an order for protestors to vacate Trafalgar Square – but lawyers for the group argued that the ban was “an abuse of power and irrational”.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said policing the demonstrations had cost Scotland Yard £21 million.

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