UK: Jury clears climate protesters of causing damage to HSBC London HQ

The Guardian

Nine climate protesters have been cleared by a jury of causing £500,000 worth of criminal damage to the windows at the headquarters of HSBC bank in London.

The women, who were all taking action as members of Extinction Rebellion, sang and chanted as they shattered the custom-made glass windows with hammers and chisels at about 7am on 22 April 2021.

They were wearing patches reading “better broken windows than broken promises” and placed stickers on the windows of the bank reading “£80bn into fossil fuels in the last five years”.

Jessica Agar, 23, Blyth Brentnall, 32, Valerie Brown, 71, Eleanor Bujak, 30, Clare Farrell, 40, Miriam Instone, 25, Tracey Mallaghan, 47, Susan Reid, 65 and Samantha Smithson, 41, all denied criminal damage. They were cleared of the charge by a jury on Thursday after a three-week trial.

The fashion designer Stella McCartney had lent the women shirts, blazers and suits to wear during their trial at Southwark crown court.

After the verdict, Farrell, an associate lecturer in sustainable fashion at Central Saint Martins, said: “This was a trial of unusual agreement; the facts of the day were not in any dispute, and the fact that we’re on course for civilisational breakdown and climate collapse seemed strangely not to be in dispute either.

“It’s tragically surreal to live in times when the justice system agrees we’re totally fucked but has nothing to say about the cause, the remedy, the victims or the perpetrators. We must continue, we will.”