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In A Cost-Of-Living Crisis, Three Christians Found Not Guilty For Insulate Britain Protest

Three members of Christian Climate Action were found not guilty of causing a public nuisance by a Crown Court jury today in a trial relating to Insulate Britain’s campaign of nonviolent civil resistance last year. The campaign was undertaken to demand that the UK government insulate Britain’s cold and leaky homes. [1]

The three Christians, Rev Sue Parfitt, 80, from Bristol, Benjamin Buse, 37 from Somerset and Ruth Jarman, 59 from Hampshire, were declared not guilty of causing a public nuisance in relation to the Insulate Britain roadblock at Cranford Parkway on the M4 on 1st October 2021 [2]. The trio were on trial alongside another Insulate Britain member, Christian Rowe, from Southwark, who was also found not guilty.

The jury took around 4 hours to deliberate before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict.

The trial, which began on Monday 2nd January at Inner London Crown Court, started with Judge Silas Reid ruling that the three defendants have no defence in law against the charge of causing a public nuisance by blocking the motorway. They were each barred from referring to the climate crisis, insulation or fuel poverty during their defence.

Speaking after the verdict today, Rev Sue Parfitt, said: 

Despite all the odds I am thankful that 12 of my fellow citizens were able to see the bigger picture and, even when directed by the judge to find us guilty, they were able to understand that the unprecedented times in which we live calls for us all to step out of the box and make courageous decisions. Thank you jury.

I think reasonable people can see that inconveniencing a few people on their way to work does not compare with the appalling threat to humanity caused by the blindness, stubbornness and greed of just a few people, including our government. We must keep on doing our best, giving our all and obeying God’s calling to us.

Ruth Jarman said: 

I took part in Insulate Britain because my Christian faith pushes me to stand up for the poor and vulnerable. The government has long been aware that Britain has some of the leakiest homes in Europe. And now we have a cost-of-living crisis where people can’t afford to pay their energy bills. I am overjoyed at being found not-guilty. However it is also so painful to think of the lives that might have been spared over the years if our government had just acted to insulate Britain’s homes

The news comes as trade associations representing power retailers, social landlords and councils call on Rishi Sunak to begin funding for mass insulation now to cut energy bills and create jobs, instead of waiting three months for new funding promised by his Chancellor. [5]

The outcome raises further doubts for future Insulate Britain trials. The first Insulate Britain jury trial was deferred until June 2023 after the Judge dismissed the jury and asked the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider whether proceeding with the trial was in the public interest. The second Jury trial resulted in a unanimous not guilty verdict and the third trial ended in another deferral. [3][4]

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