The judge dismisses the lawsuit against Greta Thunberg and fellow protesters in London.
Greta Thunberg and four other individuals were cleared of public order offenses for a London protest after a judge determined that there was no sufficient evidence against them.
Thunberg, along with Christofer Kebbon, Joshua James Unwin, Jeff Rice, and Peter Barker, were accused of not following a condition set forth in section 14 of the Public Order Act.
The individuals were participating in a demonstration outside the InterContinental hotel in Mayfair, where the Energy Intelligence Forum (EIF) was being held. This was a summit for the fossil fuel industry and was attended by business leaders and government officials.
The senior officer present at the scene arrested everyone when they implemented the section 14 order to place restrictions on the protest. The protest had caused disruptions for hotel guests and delegates attending the EIF.
After the prosecution’s case on Friday, during the second day of their trial at Westminster Magistrates Court, Judge Laws acknowledged that the prosecution had not provided sufficient evidence to support their case.
The laws stated that the requirements placed on demonstrators were “too vague to be legal,” meaning that “those who did not follow them were not actually breaking any laws.”
The judge deemed the protest to be peaceful, civilized, and nonviolent. He expressed disapproval of the prosecution’s evidence regarding the designated location for the demonstrators, stating that the only useful footage was captured by a protester who was abseiling.
He stated, “I find it very surprising that no one in the hotel, which had around 1,000 people, was interviewed for a witness statement. There was also no proof of any vehicles being obstructed, emergency services being hindered, or any danger to people’s lives.”
Raj Chada, on behalf of Thunberg, Kebbon, and Unwin, contended that the arresting officers failed to properly inform his clients about the specifics of the section 14 order.
According to Chada, there is ambiguity surrounding the condition and communication in each scenario, making it unclear what the defendants were aware of or unaware of. As a result, the prosecution’s case is deemed unsuccessful at this point.
Examining the statements of each individual officer who made an arrest, Chada asserted that they all neglected to accurately convey the specifics of the restriction placed on the protest. In Kebbon’s situation, the officer informed him that he was being arrested for “obstruction” under section 14; and in the cases of Unwin and Thunberg, officers provided inaccurate information about the designated location for redirected protesters.
Chada stated that when questioned during testimony, the officer was specifically asked about Miss Thunberg and the location, to which he responded “Piccadilly Place.”
Laws inquired, “Does that actually exist?”
“Not on the map we have,” Chada replied. “It is not the condition. Whatever it is, it is not the condition.
“We say for good measure that the condition that was in the charge is not the condition that was communicated to the officers’ supervisors. But our primary submission relates to that which was communicated to each of the three that I represent, which does not meet what the charge says, simple as that.”
Previously, the arresting officer stated in court that he did not consider Thunberg’s media presence when allowing her time to comply with the injunction imposed on the protest she was participating in.
Officer David Lawrence identified the well-known Swedish activist before approaching her to instruct her to follow the order.
Lawrence mentioned that he was summoned to the demonstration and tasked with upholding the section 14 order, which was issued by the senior officer present. He stated in court, “We entered the group and instructed individuals to relocate their protest onto the sidewalk.”
“I initially conversed with several individuals before approaching a group in the center of the gathering. Among them was a female who eventually departed, and I then spoke with Thunberg. I inquired about her intentions and offered her the option to either stay and risk arrest, or leave and continue her protest on the sidewalk.”
“Her response was verbal, stating, ‘I will not leave.’ I proceeded to inform her that she would be detained and escorted out of the vicinity.”
Lawrence stated that he detained Thunberg for violating a public order notice under section 14.
During questioning from Chada, Lawrence confessed that he was unaware of the exact place where the protesters were being instructed to move to.
After Lawrence acknowledged being familiar with Thunberg, Chada inquired, “Did you consider the presence of photographers and her ability to maneuver?”
Lawrence stated that the officers had relocated the photographers to make way. He also mentioned that another woman he had requested to move had been able to depart without any issues.
Chada questioned Lawrence about the individual’s lack of public recognition compared to Thunberg, inquiring if he had given them any additional time or opportunities to speak.
“Is there any additional time needed?” asked Lawrence, to which he received a negative response.
Laws agreed to fulfill Chada’s appeal for the government to cover his legal expenses and Thunberg’s travel expenses.