Morgan Trowland released after serving 14 months of longest-ever climate sentence

Just Stop Oil supporter Morgan Trowland was released from HMP Highpoint in Suffolk at around 9:45am today, 14 months into a three year sentence. He was setenced in April 2023. This is the longest sentence in British history for undertaking nonviolent climate action. Morgan undertook this action in service of Just Stop Oil’s demand that the UK Government halts all new licenses for fossil fuels in the UK. [1] [2]

A spokesperson from Just Stop Oil remarked:

“We’re extremely pleased to see Morgan free once again. He acted with love, and was punished in a way that has terrifying implications for the rights of all people in the UK. The fact remains that Marcus Decker is still imprisoned, and is facing the prospect of being torn away from his family, his friends, and his community. Automatic deportation is a cruel and unusual punishment. We urge everyone to sign the petition to stop Marcus’ deportation.

Recently, a group of notable figures including Dr. Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury), Stephen Fry, and Emma Thompson signed a letter in support of the HSBC 9 action takers, calling on ‘good people of conscience’ to ‘the most effective action we can’, and ‘find our courage’. Morgan and Marcus both signed this letter, so now we ask – when will the other signatories find their courage to take effective action as they did? The only time to act is now”. [3] 

Along with Marcus Decker, Morgan climbed the Queen Elizabeth II bridge, also known as the Dartford Crossing, in October 2022 and remained suspended there for 37 hours. He was arrested at the scene and immediately remanded. Marcus was sentenced to two years and seven months, and now is battling deportation to Germany due to a law that automatically deports foreign nationals sentenced to custodial sentences of more than 12 months. A petition requesting that the Home Office end proceedings against him has gained more than 146,000 signatures so far. [4]

In November 2023, UN special rapporteur Ian Fry staged an intervention regarding the sentences granted to Morgan and Marcus. The specialist on human rights within the context of climate change wrote to Rishi Sunak, remarking:

“I wish to express my concerns regarding the arrest and severity of the sentences of Mr. Trowland and Mr. Decker in relation to their work as environmental human rights defender. I am particularly concerned about the sentencing of both environmental human rights defenders in connection with the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as being significantly more severe than previous sentences imposed for this type of offending in the past”. [5] [6]

Sunak struck back at this input, stating that the unprecedented sentences were “entirely right”. [7]

During Morgan’s time in custody, he spent a great deal of time reading and studying. Particular interests of his were philosophy, literature, and poetry. He published writings and poems on his Medium page, while many of his hand-written reflections were scanned and posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) by his supporters. [8] [9]

At the time of his release, Morgan addressed a group of friends who had come to collect him:

“There’s one poem I’ve been reciting every time. It’s Percy Shelley’s elegy on the death of John Keats. Keats, of course, was a phenomenal poet. Probably because he was so compassionate, and empathetically intelligent. That poem expresses a lot of the grief and rage and madness that I feel now, witnessing an era of mass extinction. Somehow that’s soothing to witness someones else’s grief as it distracts from your own… but I’m not going to read that poem! Because I’m in too good a mood.

I’m in too good a mood because I’ve discovered a lot good things about myself. Bad things too – but the good things seem to have won out.

He went on read the poem ‘Julian and Maddalo’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Continued expansion of new oil and gas will bring about the wholesale destruction of ordered society and an end to the rule of law. We are not prepared to watch while the government continues to serve the interests of a few, at the expense of everyone else. It’s up to all of us to come together and resist. It is the will of the overwhelming majority of people that we take the actions necessary to ensure our survival and together we can make it happen.

Our government is waging war on its people, and we’re fighting back. They’re the real criminals – imprisoning peaceful people for taking proportionate action to protect their communities, whilst licensing more than 100 new oil and gas projects, which will destroy everything we value. We’re coming together to demand an end to new oil and gas. It’s not a case of ‘if’ we will win; but ‘when’.


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects.

Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on.