Since the campaign began a year ago, more than 2000 people have been arrested and 138 people found guilty for their actions.
A judge was thankful to the anti-fuel campaigners for opening his eyes and called them "a pleasure to deal with" while hearing their case on Thursday, February 16. He said that he was moved by their evidence, as reported by The Independent. Judge Graham Wilkinson was talking about the Just Stop activists who stopped oil distribution in April last year. Seven people from the movement were found guilty at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court of aggravated trespass and charges against two were dropped after they peacefully blocked oil distribution from an Esso terminal in Birmingham. The activists were asking the government to stop licenses and giving permissions for any fossil fuel projects in the UK.
While convicting the people involved in the case, the judge said, "It’s abundantly clear that you are all good people. You are intelligent and articulate, and you have been a pleasure throughout to deal with." “It’s unarguable that man-made global warming is real and we are facing a climate crisis. That is accepted and recognized by the scientific community and most governments (including our own)," he added. The defendants claimed that Esso had carried out a “sustained campaign of misinformation” for many decades about fossil fuels and their role in climate breakdown.
Judge Graham said their goal was to slow or stop the advance of global warming and to protect the planet for the existing & coming generations. “No one can criticize your motivations and indeed each of you has spoken about your own personal experiences, motivations, and actions. Many of your explanations for your actions were deeply emotive and I am sure all listening was moved by them. I know I was," said the judge. He added that they are "good people with admirable aims." However, he also stated that if good people with the right motivation "do the wrong thing, it can never make that wrong thing right." "It can only ever act as substantial mitigation."
Judge Wilkinson then pointed out that the United Nations secretary-general gave a speech saying that the fossil fuel companies were incompatible with human survival, "we should all be very aware of the need for change," he said. “Millions of people – and I do not dispute that it may be as many as 1 billion people – will be displaced as a result of climate change," said Judge Wilkinson. “The tragedy is that good people have felt so much, without hope, that you feel you have to come into conflict with the criminal justice system.”
The Independent reported that since the 'Just Stop Oil' campaign began a year ago, more than 2000 people have been arrested and 138 people found guilty for their actions, like blocking traffic, throwing paint on buildings and climbing motorway gantries. Many people have criticized the group for the distribution of fossil fuels they had led to. The judge said that it was a court of law, not morals. “Trust in the rule of law is an essential ingredient of society, and it will erode swiftly if judges make politically or morally motivated decisions that do not accord with established legal principles. Indeed, I would become the self-appointed sheriff if I acted in such a way,” he said.
Nevertheless, he thanked the defendants for opening his eyes to the facts. However, he added that he will have to convict them. “I say this I – and I mean this sadly – I have to convict you. You are good people and I will not issue a punitive sentence. Your arrests and loss of good character are sufficient. I don’t say this, ever, but it has been a pleasure dealing with you.” The defendants convicted and given a 12-month conditional discharge are Paul Barnes, Harley Brewer, Oliver Clegg, Jon Deery, Paul Michael Fawkesley, Diana Hekt and Alan Woods, as reported by BBC.