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Prosecutors review all Extinction Rebellion cases as third protester in a week has conviction quashed

Prosecutors are reviewing all Extinction Rebellion cases after a third protester in a week had their conviction quashed.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped its opposition to the activists’ appeals towards their convictions for obstructing roads in completely different demonstrations.

At least 4 extra appeals are because of be heard over the approaching days at London’s Old Bailey, whereas related cases are ongoing at different courts.

The newest demonstrator to have her conviction quashed was 23-year-old Amelia Halls, from Stamford in Lincolnshire.

She was initially convicted of freeway obstruction over a protest at City of London Airport in October 2019 and given a conditional discharge with £400 prices.

Alex Slater, for the CPS, mentioned it could now not be resisting her attraction towards conviction and sentence.

He informed the Old Bailey the choice was sparked by a Supreme Court ruling that demonstrators can have a “reasonable excuse” for blocking roads below human rights legal guidelines.

“There is a case-by-case review of appeals listed over the coming weeks,” he added.

Judge Mark Dennis QC, sitting with two magistrates, formally quashed her conviction and mentioned any money paid could be returned.

He informed the court docket he anticipated the “same issue to rise” in upcoming appeals and requested the CPS to make a determination on whether or not it could proceed to oppose them by subsequent Wednesday.

Judge Dennis beforehand warned of a “fundamental problem” in Extinction Rebellion appeals and urged the CPS to review all the remaining cases the place the primary subject was “lawful excuse”.

He mentioned prosecutors had not “grasped” the impact of a Supreme Court ruling or the “basic human rights point that has been there for a very long time”.

Ms Halls mentioned the discovering was a “huge relief”, including: “It’s showing that what we are doing [with Extinction Rebellion protests] is beginning to be seen as proportionate.”

Extinction Rebellion protesters block roads throughout UK

She mentioned it was “frustrating” that protesters have been having to undergo a “drawn-out” appeals course of to have their convictions overturned.

“In the magistrates’ courts there seems to be this desire to convict without fully engaging with what’s going on, but in the appeals they are looking in more detail,” she added.

“It’s really showing that our right to protest is being honoured with these obstruction cases.”

On Wednesday, the CPS offered no proof towards 65-year-old Robert MacQueen, who was interesting towards a freeway obstruction conviction for an October 2019 protest in London.

On Tuesday, Judge Dennis additionally quashed the conviction of Emma-Rose Goodwin, 47, from Exeter, when the CPS once more provided no proof.

The Supreme Court dominated that protests might be a “lawful excuse” to dam roads in June, following the acquittal of protesters who blockaded a London arms honest in 2017.

Its ruling mentioned that protesters can have a “lawful excuse” defence towards the offence of obstructing a freeway, even the place they’ve used “deliberately physically obstructive conduct”.

“There must be an assessment of the facts in each individual case to determine whether the interference with article 10 or article 11 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] was ‘necessary in a democratic society’,” he added.

The ruling, which is binding on all courts, signifies that protesters can’t be convicted of blocking roads if their rights to protest outweigh any disruption or interference with the rights of others.

It brought about the trial of Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded a Rupert Murdoch-owned printworks to be paused, however a choose convicted them final month after discovering there was “not a fair balance between the rights of the defendants to protest and and the rights of the business to operate”.

A CPS spokesperson mentioned: “We have a duty of continuous review of our cases which includes cases which have already been charged or are at the appeal stage. This enables us to take account of any change in circumstances or legal rulings”.

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