'I was moved by your actions', judge tells Just Stop Oil protesters as they avoid jail for raiding Esso oil terminal

17 February 2023, 18:01

Just Stop Oil protestors blocked a Birmingham Esso fuel terminal in April last year
Just Stop Oil protestors blocked a Birmingham Esso fuel terminal in April last year. Picture: Alamy/Just Stop Oil
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A West Midlands judge has sparked fury for telling seven Just Stop Oil (JSO) protesters he was 'moved by their actions' after they raided an Esso oil terminal in Birmingham.

Seven JSO activists blocked the West Midlands fuel terminal for around 12 hours in April last year, affecting commuters and a number of petrol stations' supply.

Activists Paul Barnes, Paul Fawkesley and Alan Woods were all made to pay costs of £500, while Oliver Clegg, Jon Deery, Harley Brewer and Diana Hekt were charged £250 for their actions.

District Judge Graham Wilkinson handed the group a 12-month conditional discharge. They were also made to pay a £22 surcharge, but avoided jail.

Though the protesters were convicted and fined, members of the public have expressed their outrage at hearing Judge Wilkinson's remarks about the group.

The group of Just Stop Oil protestors were fined but avoided jail
The group of Just Stop Oil protestors were fined but avoided jail. Picture: Just Stop Oil

"It is abundantly clear that you are all good people, intelligent and articulate and you have been a pleasure throughout to deal with.

"It is unarguable that man made global warming is real and that we are facing a climate crisis," he said, according to the Mail.

"That is accepted and recognised by the scientific community and most governments (including our own).

"Your aims are to slow or even stop the advance of global warming and therefore to preserve the planet not just for generations to come but for existing generations."

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West Midlands Police tackling a Just Stop Oil activist at Esso Birmingham last year
West Midlands Police tackling a Just Stop Oil activist at Esso Birmingham last year. Picture: Alamy
The Just Stop Oil protest took place in April last year
The Just Stop Oil protest took place in April last year. Picture: Alamy

The judge continued: "No one can therefore criticise your motivations and indeed each of you has spoken individually about your own personal experiences, motivations and actions.

"Many of your explanations for your actions were deeply emotive and I am sure all listening were moved by them, I know I was.

"In simple terms you are good people with admirable aims. However 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."

After the hearing, Just Stop Oil said the judge had told them they should "feel guilty for nothing", but the Judicial Office has since said he had been misquoted by the activist group.

A number of people have taken to social media to scorn the judge for his comments, with one Twitter user writing: "Well he should be sacked. His opinion means nothing. He’s supposed to up hold the law of the UK."

A second added: "Another judge that needs to go."

However, there have been a number of positive responses too, with Jack Lowe defending his ruling. He wrote: "Judge Wilkinson *has* upheld UK law and he clearly describes his reasoning.

"He shouldn’t be sacked because you don’t approve of the conclusions he has drawn from the evidence he has heard."

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