PRESS RELEASE: Clergy on Trial After Standing on a Train: ‘We tried everything else’

Verdict expected on Thursday afternoon or Friday

Thursday 13th January 2022

For immediate release

Photos here / Interviews available

Contact: christianclimateaction@gmail.com / 07954 377569

A jury has heard that three Christians, two of them members of the clergy, had ‘tried everything else’ before stopping a DLR train in London in 2019 to highlight the seriousness of the climate emergency.

The trial, which has been underway at Inner Court London since Monday, involves Rev Sue Parfitt, 79, Fr Martin Newell, 54, and Phil Kingston, 85, all members of Christian Climate Action. They are charged with obstructing trains or carriages on the railway under the malicious damages act after Rev Sue and Fr Martin stood on top of the DLR train at Shadwell station and Phil Kingston sat on the platform and glued himself to the outside of the train and prayed with other members of Christian Climate Action.

None of the ‘Shadwell 3’, as they are known, deny their part in the action. Their defence is that it was a proportionate response to the escalating climate crisis and a lawful protest under the Human Rights Act.

This trial follows the acquittal by a jury in December of six people, also all members of Christian Climate and known as the DLR ‘Canaries’, who were charged with the same offence during an action at Canary Wharf station in April 2019.

In that case, as in this one, the jury was directed by the judge to decide whether a conviction was “necessary in a democratic society” or whether it would be a disproportionate interference in the defendants’ human rights. The ‘Canaries’ jury returned a unanimous Not Guilty verdict in less than an hour.

The issue of proportionality – arising from the Supreme Court’s recent Ziegler ruling – was also one of the defences used by the ‘Colston 4’ – who toppled a statue of a former slave trader – in their trial which concluded last week. The four were acquitted by a jury in Bristol after removing a public statue of the slave trader Edward Colston.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the Shadwell 3 trial at Inner London Crown Court heard evidence for the prosecution, including that Phil told train passengers he was taking action “for the future of my grandchildren and for the future of yours”.

The prosecution is expected to finish its case this morning (Thursday) after which the defence will begin. The jury will likely be sent out to consider its verdict tomorrow afternoon or Thursday.

ENDS

Contact: christianclimateaction@gmail.com / 07954 377569

Notes for Editors:

  1. Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. We are inspired by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. Following the example of social justice movements of the past, we carry out acts of public witness, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to urge those in power to make the changes needed. Since November 2018 we have worked closely with Extinction Rebellion and have become known as the Christians in XR. www.christianclimateaction.org
  2. A blog published at the time of the action: https://christianclimateaction.org/2019/10/17/a-catholic-and-anglican-priest-climb-on-top-of-train-destined-for-the-city/
  3. Recent coverage of the trial:
    1.  Climate priest who climbed on train: ‘We tried everything else’ | The Independent
    1. Extinction Rebellion: Priest says faith motivated train-halt climate protest – BBC News

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