Extinction Rebellion protesters are found guilty of blocking the printing press of a national newspaper

Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been released with a slap on the wrist and a £150 fine after blocking a national newspaper print shop during a protest that cost publishers more than £1million.

Activists stopped 3.5million newspapers from reaching readers when they used bamboo structures to prevent lorries from leaving the Newsprinters printing works in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire on September 4.

Caspar Hughes, 49, from Exeter; Elise Yarde, 32, of Walthamstow; Amir Jones, 39, from London; Laura Frandsen, 30, from London; Charlotte Kirin, 51, of Bury St Edmunds; and Hazel Stenson, 56, of Bury St Edmunds, all appeared at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The protesters were found guilty of obstructing the freeway, with Judge Sally Fudge adding that while the protest was “peaceful”, it had a significant impact on businesses’ ability to operate.

The six defendants, except Frandsen, were conditionally released for 12 months and ordered to pay £150 in court and a £22 surcharge.

Frandsen, who has two previous convictions for similar offences, was ordered to pay a fine of £150 and to pay the court £150 with a surcharge of £34.

The court heard around 50 XR members using vehicles and bamboo structures, used as locks, to deny entry to or exit from the Broxbourne site.

The protest lasted 14 hours and those involved targeted parts of the print media which the defendants said “failed to accurately report on the climate crisis and are guilty of corruption”.

Today’s convictions were not the first for the printing works protest, with several other activists freed with parole or small fines.

Caspar Hughes, 49, from Exeter; Elise Yarde, 32, of Walthamstow; Amir Jones, 39, from London; Laura Frandsen, 30, from London; Charlotte Kirin, 51, of Bury St Edmunds; and Hazel Stenson, 56, from Bury St Edmunds all appeared (pictured) at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on Friday

In October, two Extinction Rebellion protesters pleaded guilty for their participation in the protest. Eleanor McAree, 26, from Brentwood, also breached a nine-month parole imposed in December 2019 for an Extinction Rebellion protest in London.

The second defendant, Will Farbrother, 39, of Walthamstow, also pleaded guilty.

McAree, who earns £41,000 a year as a project manager, was fined £500 for obstructing Broxbourne, plus £105 costs, £50 victim fine surcharge and £150 for breaching the Conditional liberation.

Farbrother, who gives up his £39,000-a-year job as a civil servant to work with refugees in Athens, was previously of good character. He was granted six months’ parole and ordered to pay £105 in costs and a victim surcharge of £22.

Newsprinters presses publish the titles of News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch, including The Sun, The Times, The Sun On Sunday and The Sunday Times, as well as The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Mail On Sunday, and the London Evening Standard.

Six defendants are currently on trial at the same time in this case.

Today’s verdict was expected last month, but Ms Fudge agreed to postpone the trial to await the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling, which on June 25 overturned the convictions of four protesters who had locked up outside an arms fair in 2017.

The four protesters were found to be exercising their rights to freedom of speech and assembly and had a lawful excuse.

The court heard around 50 XR members using vehicles and bamboo structures, used as locks, to deny entry to or exit from the Broxbourne site.

The court heard around 50 XR members using vehicles and bamboo structures, used as locks, to deny entry to or exit from the Broxbourne site.

Judge Fudge found that the police acted proportionately in arresting the protesters, adding: ‘The level of disruption caused by the protest was high and the obstruction of the freeway went on for a very long time.

“It is accepted that the impact of their protest would have been lessened if they had been located on the side of the freeway so that deliveries could continue to proceed as normal, but Superintendent Wells’ view, who made the decision to stop was that by the time he arrived the protest had been going on for about four and a half hours.

“In my view, the protesters had, up to the time of their arrest, been able to exercise their rights under Sections 10 and 11 with little or no interference from the state, and that party of the protest had already had some impact on the newspaper printers’ ability to conduct business in the usual way.

The protest lasted 14 hours and those involved targeted parts of the print media which the defendants say

The protest lasted 14 hours and those involved targeted parts of the print media which the defendants said “failed to accurately report on the climate crisis and are guilty of corruption”.

The judge said it had resulted in a ‘loss of commercial revenue worth over £1million’, adding: ‘It had an impact similar to a ripple effect, with the newspapers’ distributors to the core who bore the brunt of the disruption, to the individual consumer on the outside who was unable to purchase their favorite newspaper that day while experiencing inconvenience.

During the trial, the court heard how Home Secretary Priti Patel called several commanders over the protest and asked to ‘speed up’ their dismissal.

Raj Chada, defending, said an independent review of the incident, commissioned by Hertfordshire Police, found officers had come under “significant political pressure”.

However, Judge Fudge said she found that the police had ‘maintained their operational independence’ and that Ms Patel’s conversations with senior officers had not influenced decisions made on the ground.

From left to right: Liam Norton, James Ozen, Morgan Trouland, Ellenor Bujak, Tim Spears and Sally Davidson have already been tried

From left to right: Liam Norton, James Ozen, Morgan Trouland, Ellenor Bujak, Tim Spears and Sally Davidson have already been tried

Sentencing the defendants, Ms Fudge said: ‘This was a peaceful protest with no suggestion of harm done by anyone and no abuse or obstruction by officers.’ You all came to the defense with passion and clarity and it was obvious that you had thought well about what you were doing.

Extinction Rebellion said it was considering appealing the convictions.

In a statement after the hearing, a spokesperson for XR said: “We are astonished that Judge Fudge ruled that there was no political interference in the police operation, despite overwhelming evidence. “

“As floods devastate Europe, another heat dome builds in the United States, and conservationists around the world are silenced, XR will continue to demand that the press tell the truth. on the climate and ecological emergency.”

Previously Liam Norton, 36, of Esplanade Gardens, Scarborough; Sally Davidson, 33, of Byards Croft, Streatham, South London; and James Ozden, 35, of The Avenue, London, were each released on parole for 12 months and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £150 and a statutory victim fine surcharge of £22.

Eleanor Bujak, 28, of Bracey Street, Finsbury Park, London and Morgan Trowland, 38, Massie Road, Hackney, east London, were both fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £150, plus a victim surcharge of £34.

Timothy Speers, of Rosswyld Lodge, Waltham Forest was fined £200 and ordered to pay £150 prosecution costs and a victim fine surcharge of £34.