Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook 'at peace' with guilty verdict for breaking £27k window
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook's conviction for a breaking £27k window has been met with outrage by a number of other high profile environmentalists, including Chris Packham
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One of the co-founders of climate protest group Extinction Rebellion has been convicted of criminal damage for breaking a £27,500 government window at an HS2 protest.
Dr Gail Bradbrook's trial began on Monday (30 October) at Isleworth Crown Court, after years of delays - including an aborted trial in July. The activist was charged with criminal damage for breaking the pricey window at the UK’s Department for Transport offices in London in October 2019 - in what the climate group described as "a rebellion against the government’s failure to take adequate and appropriate action on the climate and nature emergencies".
The climate action group said in a statement she was found guilty by the jury on Wednesday (1 November), and will reappear for sentencing on 18 December. Dr Bradbrook said in the she was "at peace" with the verdict. "Even if I did what I did to protect my own children, that was no defence in law," she continued.
"What does it tell us that there is no accountability for those causing damage on a national and planetary scale, the oil bosses and financiers, and those responsible for the billion pound fraud on the British public that is HS2, but that a mother taking action to protect her children - according to the scientific evidence - is treated as a criminal."
While Bradbrook had pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal damage - in an unusual move, she admitted to breaking the window before her trial. However, Bradbrook initially argued that she did it as an act of conscientious protection – a concept not yet recognised in UK law. While the starting point for her sentence was originally one-and-a-half years prison time, the judge has reportedly indicated he would consider passing a suspended custodial sentence.
The BBC reports during preparations for her original trial in July, the self-represented activist said she was trying to preventing a greater crime of climate destruction - and that the government might have consented had they known why she was breaking the window.
However, Judge Martin Edmunds KC ruled these were not valid legal defences - leading Dr Bradbrook to argue she was being silenced. The judge reportedly stopped the hearing and gave a rare warning that he may have to decide the case without a jury under rarely-used powers to prevent jury tampering.
"It is evident that Dr Bradbrook, by reference to her beliefs, considers either that the rules that apply to every other criminal defendant do not apply to her or that she is entitled to disregard them," he said in his July ruling. While Bradbrook was once again told not to address the jury on her beliefs and reasoning for breaking the glass in the October trial, the BBC reports she did so a number of times. While the judge did not halt the trial, he interjected 15 times to say certain evidence was inadmissible.
In reaction to her conviction, environmentalist and BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham said: “Shooting the brave messengers is vindictive, cruel, reckless and history will not look kindly upon the perpetrators of this kind of ‘justice’. It betrays any kind of ethical consideration and displays an abject disregard for our terrifying reality and the urgent need to address it. Shameful behaviour from the judiciary.”
Speaking ahead of the verdict, the actress Emma Thompson said: “In the same way we honour the women who broke windows to gain the vote, so we will honour the people who break windows in order to gain real action in the face of deadly climate collapse. People who risk losing their freedom for the sake of other humans and for the protection of all future generations are not criminals but heroes," she added.