Judge tells Just Stop Oil activists ‘feel guilty for nothing’ after causing chaos at Esso terminal
A judge told seven Just Stop Oil activists convicted of dawn raids on an Esso oil terminal that they should “feel guilty about nothing” as they got out of jail.
The activists were found guilty after blocking the distribution of oil from the Esso fuel terminal in Birmingham in April 2022 when they demanded that the government halt licenses and consents for any new fossil fuel projects in the UK.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard how Just Stop Oil supporters arrived at the site at 4am on April 3 last year and halted all distribution for around 12 hours.
Paul Barnes, Paul Fawkesley and Alan Woods have had to pay £500 each. Oliver Clegg, Jon Deery, Harley Brewer, Diana Hekt were charged costs of £250 each.
All seven have been sentenced to 12 months’ conditional discharge and made to pay a £22 surcharge.
But Judge Wilkinson, while urging them not to break the law again, reportedly told them: ‘You should be proud that you care, care about the future.’
“Good people who do something wrong cannot correct what is wrong,” added the judge.
Just Stop Oil shared this photo outside court yesterday: a judge told activists ‘thank you for opening my eyes to certain things’
Just Stop Oil activists block the route of a tanker truck as they blockade the ESSO Birmingham fuel terminal, Birmingham, on Friday 1 April 2022.
Naomi Goddard and Sylvie More have been found not guilty as the Crown Prosecution Service “offered no evidence” against them.
According to Just Stop Oil, the judge said in summary: ‘It’s very clear that all of you are good people. You are intelligent, eloquent and a pleasure to deal with.
“It is indisputable that man-made global warming is real and that we are facing a climate emergency.
Your aims are admirable and both I and the Crown Prosecution Service accept that your views are reasonable and sincere. Its goals are skillfully and genuinely articulated and supported by science.’
The Judge added: ‘When the Secretary General of the United Nations makes a speech saying that the activity of fossil fuel companies is incompatible with human survival, we must all be very aware of the need for change.
‘Millions of people, and I don’t dispute that it could be up to a billion people, will be displaced as a result of climate change.
No one can criticize your motivations. You all gave evidence that was deeply moving. It certainly moved me.
“The tragedy is that good people have felt so much, without hope, that you feel like you have to run afoul of the criminal justice system.”
Police officers detain a Just Stop Oil activist during a protest outside the Esso Birmingham fuel terminal on April 1 last year.
‘Thank you for opening my eyes to certain things. Of most, she was acutely and depressingly aware, but there were certain things.
‘I say this and mean it sadly I have to condemn it. You are good people and I will not issue a punitive sentence. Your arrests and loss of good character are enough.
‘Good people who do the wrong thing cannot make the wrong thing right. I’m not saying this, ever, but it’s been a pleasure dealing with you.
You should feel guilty for nothing. You should be proud that you care, care about the future. I urge you not to break the law again. Good luck to all of you.’
Clegg, 20, a plant science student from Manchester, said: “I never expected that I would find myself breaking the law, being arrested and before a judge.” However, I never expected the government to license new oil, gas and even coal mines while claiming it is leading the world on the climate crisis.
Opinion was divided online over the judge’s comments: some thought they were “brilliant” but others disagreed.
“If the government doesn’t stand up to the fossil fuel industry, then it’s up to the youth to defend our own future.”
Public opinion was divided following the judge’s comments, with some full of praise but others shocked.
‘What an extraordinary trial, in every sense of both words,’ commented one.
Another said: ‘Well, he should be fired. His opinion means nothing. He’s supposed to abide by UK law.
One tweeted: ‘Great news. A very small step, of course, but certainly in the right direction.
But another said: ‘Another judge who has to go.’