Four climate protesters who stopped traffic on a central London road during rush hour have been convicted of causing a public nuisance.
Julie Mecoli, 68, Stefania Morosi, 45, Louise Lancaster, 57 and Nicholas Till, 67, were among a group of Insulate Britain supporters who walked into Upper Thames Street on 25 October 2021 while a separate group also blocked nearby roads on Bishopsgate, in the City of London financial district. All four denied the charges.
Lancaster, a teacher, was also found to be in contempt of court after she spoke to the jury about the climate crisis despite being warned not to do so by the judge, Silas Reid.
All four chose to represent themselves during their trial at Inner London crown court.
In her closing address, Mecoli said: “I know that there were some very angry drivers. I am sorry they got caught up in the protest. If I could, I would apologise in person to those caught up in the disruption.”
However, she added: “The prosecution did not bring to court any members of the public supposedly so affected by the protest. The action wasn’t selfish. We planned the action carefully.”
Lancaster said she felt she had acted with “care”, and that if she could face drivers disrupted by their protest, she would apologise to each for the delays they faced.
In comments that led the judge to send jurors out of the court, she added: “I do not apologise for the actions I took. I feel I acted with care when our politicians do not care, letting thousands die each winter from the cold, failing to reduce carbon emissions that are destroying our world, and using our legal system to criminalise and gag those who raise the alarm.”
After the jurors returned to court, Reid told them: “She [Lancaster] knew she wasn’t entitled to say what she said at the end of her address.
“She wants the trial to deal with her concerns with respect to climate change. That is not what this trial is about.
“You must ignore what she said with respect to the government and climate change. You must not hold against her any potential perception that she is trying to manipulate you to go against your oath of affirmation.”
Reid ruled that Lancaster had committed a contempt of court in her closing address by speaking to the jury about the climate crisis, but he took no further action against her, saying: “You were in no way additionally impolite or used swear words. I am not going to take any action in relation to what is a clear contempt.”
In his closing speech, Till, who is a professor of history at the University of Sussex, accepted that they had blocked the road, but questioned whether it amounted to a public nuisance.
“We knew we were going to cause disruption,” he said. He then said to the jury: “We carried out the act for the people caught up in it, for my children and grandchildren, and for your children and grandchildren.”
Reid declined to discharge the jury after Till’s words, but asked them to disregard elements of Till’s closing address.
All four will be sentenced on 30 June.