Two women in their 80s charged with criminal damage after Magna Carta glass smashed in Just Stop Oil stunt

11 May 2024, 11:08 | Updated: 11 May 2024, 11:45

Two elderly women took a hammer and chisel to the glass of the Magna Carta
Two elderly women took a hammer and chisel to the glass of the Magna Carta. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Emma Soteriou

Two women in their 80s have been charged with criminal damage after the glass surrounding the Magna Carta in the British Library was smashed as part of a Just Stop Oil stunt.

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Reverend Sue Parfitt, 82, from Bristol, and Judith Bruce, 85, from Swansea, were arrested on Friday morning and have been charged with criminal damage, the Metropolitan Police said.

Officers said two protesters entered the British Library at 10.40am on Friday morning and targeted the protective enclosure around the historic document with a hammer and chisel.

After they smashed the glass, they then glued their hands together, demanding an emergency plan to just stop oil by 2030.

They also held up a sign reading "the government is breaking the law".

Read more: Priest, 82, and retired teacher, 85, smash Magna Carta glass in latest Just Stop Oil environmental stunt

Read more: Suspended doctor fears being struck off medical register over Just Stop Oil protest

Just Stop Oil break Magna Carta glass

Judy Bruce, 85, a retired biology teacher from Swansea, said: "This week 400 respected scientists- contributors to IPCC reports, are saying we are ‘woefully unprepared’ for what’s coming: 2.5 or more degrees of heating above pre industrial levels.

“Instead of acting, our dysfunctional government is like the three monkeys: ‘see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing- pretend we’ve got 25 years’.. We haven’t! We must get off our addiction to oil and gas by 2030 – starting now.” 

Reverend Dr Sue Parfitt said: “The Magna Carta is rightly revered, being of great importance to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws. But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened.

“We must get things in proportion. The abundance of life on earth, the climate stability that allows civilisation to continue is what must be revered and protected above all else, even above our most precious artefacts.”

A statement from the British Library said its security team "intervened to prevent further damage to the case, which was minimal" and "the Magna Carta itself remains undamaged".

The gallery that houses the display is closed until further notice, it added.

There are four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. The British Library holds two and the others are held at Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.

The pair were released on bail and are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on June 20.

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