Greta Thunberg has public order charge thrown out because police tried to impose 'unlawful' protest conditions

2 February 2024, 15:32 | Updated: 2 February 2024, 16:41

Greta Thunberg has had her case thrown out of court
Greta Thunberg has had her case thrown out of court. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Greta Thunberg has had her public order charge thrown out of court because police tried to impose "unlawful" conditions on an environment protest.

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The 21-year-old, from Sweden, was arrested during a demonstration near the InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair, London, on October 17 as oil executives met inside for a conference.

Thunberg pleaded not guilty to breaching Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 alongside two Fossil Free London (FFL) protesters and two Greenpeace activists.

But a judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday ruled that the climate activists had no case to answer.

District Judge John Law said the conditions put on protesters were "so unclear that it is unlawful" which meant "anyone failing to comply were actually committing no offence".

He also said insufficient notice of them had been given to the demonstrators.

Read more: Greta Thunberg skips to court as she goes on trial over London oil protest

Read more: Greta Thunberg received ‘final warning’ to move during Mayfair oil protest before her arrest, court hears

Greta Thunberg leaves Westminster Magistrates Court
Greta Thunberg leaves Westminster Magistrates Court. Picture: Getty

The protest was "throughout peaceful, civilised and non-violent", the judge said.

He criticised evidence provided by the prosecution about the location of where the demonstrators should have been moved to - saying the only helpful footage he received was "made by an abseiling protester".

"It is quite striking to me that there were no witness statements taken from anyone in the hotel, approximately 1,000 people, or from anyone trying to get in," he added.

"There was no evidence of any vehicles being impeded, no evidence of any interference with emergency services, or any risk to life."

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Maja Darlington, campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "Today’s verdict is a victory for the right to protest.

"It is ridiculous that more and more climate activists are finding themselves in court for peacefully exercising their right to protest, while fossil fuel giants like Shell are allowed to reap billions in profits from selling climate-wrecking fossil fuels.

"The prosecution of Greta and other peaceful protesters reflects a government that cares more about bolstering the profits of oil bosses than fighting for a liveable future for all of us.

"Instead of cracking down on climate activists, the UK government should force the oil industry to stop drilling and start paying for the damage they are causing to our planet and everyone who lives on it."

Greta Thunberg skips to court

It comes after Thunberg was pictured skipping outside court during a break in her trial earlier in the week.

She was given a "final warning" by police to move to a designated protest area during a demonstration in central London last year before she was detained for staying put, the court heard.

Protesters started to gather near the hotel at around 7.30am and police engaged with them about improving access for members of the public, which had been made "impossible".

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