Just Stop Oil supporter released from prison after acquittal in first trial under new ‘locking-on’ law 

Just Stop Oil supporter, Callum Goode, has been released from HMP Wandsworth following their acquittal in the first ever trial for the offence of ‘Locking On,’ as defined in the new Public Order Act (Section 1). Callum has been imprisoned since the 6th March, without trial, after taking action to highlight the injustice of weaponizing civil injunctions against people demanding an end to oil and gas. [1]

On Tuesday 16th April, Callum appeared alongside Tez Burns, 35, before District Judge Minhas at City of London Magistrates’ Court, charged with causing ‘significant disruption’ under the Public Order Act. On the 6th March, Callum and Tez glued their hands to the gate of the Royal Courts of Justice to highlight how injunctions are being used to silence those speaking out about climate inaction. [2]

District Judge Minhas ruled that convicting Callum and Tez for a minor 15-minute delay to court proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice would be disproportionate. Goode has been imprisoned, on remand, since the 6th of March at HMP Pentonville and HMP Wandsworth.

In their testimony to the court, Cal said:

“The action that day was to raise the alarm around the use of civil injunctions to silence dissent. It’s a gross injustice and you can’t challenge injunctions legally because that requires financial means that we don’t have. So we’re forced to take this kind of action against these injustices to protect our rights.” 

“At the time we took this action I was on trial for breaking an injunction that I didn’t even know of at the time of allegedly breaking it. There were 18 of us participating in these proceedings of which 16 were forced to plead guilty because they wouldn’t be able to afford the costs of actually legally challenging the injunction. The choice presented was to either plead guilty or sign an undertaking. Tez and I refused to do that. We’d timed our action for the day of the verdict because we wanted to participate fully in the trial and tell the judge that this was unjust and give them the chance to realise that court time should not be wasted, but they didn’t do that.”

Tez Burns, 35, a bicycle mechanic from Swansea said:

“I wanted to highlight the injustice of the double jeopardy arising out of civil injunctions. Civil injunctions are private laws that allow extremely rich and powerful companies to suppress those speaking out against their murderous policies and practices. I think people have a right to know about injustice. Most people that saw us that day who spoke to us were kind to us. People weren’t pissed off, they were proud that their fellow citizens are standing up for something that is happening in this country that is wrong.”

Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders under the Aarhus Convention recently said: “I am deeply troubled at the use of civil injunctions to ban protest in certain areas, including on public roadways.” adding: “The repression that environmental activists who use peaceful civil disobedience are currently facing in Europe is a major threat to democracy and human rights.” [3]

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said:

“Injunctions are private laws bought by corporations and government agencies. Typically they are used to protect someone from harassment, and are intended as a remedy not a punishment, but since the Insulate Britain campaign began, they’ve been increasingly used by the State and private companies to silence dissent by climate resistors. They are being used to circumnavigate the usual rule of law, where defendants appear before a high court judge with no jury. They potentially expose defendants to ‘double jeopardy’ for the same action, where they may also be facing criminal charges. Typically injunctions result in astronomical legal costs which are applied to people named on an injunction, even if they have never broken it. Where defendants are offered an undertaking- which commits them to a certain action- and they choose to sign it, all costs are then divided equally amongst any remaining defendants. This is a divide and rule tactic being used to silence those speaking out about the criminality of politicians and business leaders.”

As the world passes tipping points that threaten the breakdown of ordered civilization, world leaders, captured by the interests of oil lobbyists and big business, are failing to protect our communities. British citizens are sick of being led by liars and crooks. Until we stop Tory oil, supporters of Just Stop Oil will continue taking proportionate action to demand necessary change. Sign up for action at juststopoil.org.


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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.

[2] https://juststopoil.org/2024/03/06/just-stop-oil-supporters-block-the-royal-courts-of-justice-during-injunction-trial/

[3] https://pbicanada.org/2024/01/23/un-special-rapporteur-on-environmental-defenders-deeply-troubled-at-the-use-of-civil-injunctions-to-ban-protest/