Just Stop Oil supporters convicted in first ever Section 7 Trial 

Phoebe Plummer, Chiara Sarti, and Daniel Hall have been found guilty in a landmark case under Section 7 of the new Public Order Act 2023. The case concluded today with a jury decision of 11-1 at Southwark Crown Court. 

The Just Stop Oil supporters were tried for marching for twenty minutes to demand the UK government end all licences and consents for new oil, gas, and coal projects. They are due to have their sentencing hearing on the 3rd of July 2024. [1]

Speaking on the final day of hearings, Phoebe, 22, said:

“I am on trial for spending 20 minutes on a march. During the course of this trial we have had all our legal defences removed and been told that we can not talk about the climate crisis. So today when I was giving my closing statement, I decided to stand for a minute in silence to think about all of the people that are dying right now due to the government’s inaction on the climate crisis. 

“To be honest this trial really isn’t about me or my codefendants, it is about our democracy. If we can not march against injustices then I don’t think we can say we live in a democracy.”

This trial marks the first prosecution under Section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023, which addresses acts “which prevent or significantly delay the operation of key infrastructure, including airports, railways, printing presses, and oil and gas infrastructure”. The offence can lead to a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. During the trial, significant restrictions were placed on the defence; the defendants were stripped of all legal defences and were prohibited from mentioning the climate crisis to the jury. 

The three took action on the 15th November 2023, marching for less than twenty minutes along Cromwell Road in London. Following their arrest for peacefully marching, Phoebe Plummer was imprisoned, without trial, for 18 days, whilst Chiara Sarti was imprisoned for 19 days, without trial. [2] [3] [4] 

Chiara Sarti, 24, a PhD student from Cambridge, spoke before trial:

“We are on trial for daring to walk down a road for less than 20 minutes. They have already put us in prison over this for two weeks, using laws written by the Policy Exchange and paid for by big oil. On the prison TV we got to watch the lives of our friends in Uganda being sacrificed for the profits of oil barons at COP28.”

In a recent Guardian survey, 77% of climate scientists confirmed expectations of global temperatures rising by at least 2.5C above pre industrial levels, significantly exceeding the critical 1.5C threshold governments agreed to in 2015. Almost half (42%) think it will be more than 3C.

“[The climate crisis] is an existential threat to humanity and [lack of] political will and vested corporate interests are preventing us addressing it. I do worry about the future my children are inheriting,” said Lorraine Whitmarsh, environmental scientist at the University of Bath.

When asked what individual action would be effective, Stephen Humphreys at the London School of Economics said: “Civil disobedience.” [5]

Democracy has been hijacked by corporations that are destroying our communities for profit. Until leaders act to protect us, Just Stop Oil supporters will continue to take the proportional action necessary to generate political pressure. This summer airports will be declared sites of civil resistance. Sign up to take 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/2023/11/15/66-just-stop-oil-supporters-march-in-defiance-of-new-oil-and-gas/

[3] https://juststopoil.org/2023/11/16/we-wont-let-them-get-away-with-mass-murder-for-the-sake-of-greed/

[4] https://juststopoil.org/2023/11/16/how-many-people-will-die-before-you-stop-sending-people-like-me-to-prison/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2024/may/08/hopeless-and-broken-why-the-worlds-top-climate-scientists-are-in-despai