United Kingdom

XR protestors found guilty over press blockade that stopped newspapers from being delivered 

Six members of Extinction Rebellion who blockaded a printing works and stopped millions of newspapers from being distributed across the country have been fined for their actions.

About 50 members of the protest group had erected bamboo structures outside he gates of Newsprinters in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News UK, last September.

Their actions meant millions oif editions of The Mail, The Times, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and London Evening Standard could not leave the premises.

Members of staff could also not drive home at the end of their shifts at 5am.

(From left) Liam Norton , James Ozen, Morgan Trowland, Eleanor Bujak, Tim Spears and Sally Davidson outside court

Today Sally Davidson, 33, James Ozden, 35, Timothy Speers, 25, Morgan Trowland, 38, Eleanor Bujack and Timothy Speers were found guilty of wilfully blocking the highway during their protest.

During the trial at St Albans Magistrates' Court, the group claimed they disrupted the distribution highlight, what they described as the media's failure to report the seriousness of the climate and ecological crisis.

Alan Brett, the manufacturing director at Newsprinters, told the court printers, contractors, engineers, drivers and cleaners all found themselves unable to leave in their cars when their shift ended at 5am in the morning.

The scene of the protest last September when Extinction Rebellion activists block the entrance to Newsprinters facility

He said the company had to order a fleet of around 20 taxis to take the employees home.

It meant that workers had to make their way on foot through the gates and past the protestors to the waiting taxis.

But he said they were then faced with the prospect of coming back to the site later to collect their cars.

Raj Chada who defended four of the six said in his closing speech: ‘Without doubt they were exercising their right to free speech.’

Mr Speers who defended himself said: "It's often said that for evil to thrive, all it takes is for good people to do nothing. Well, on the evening of September 4, I decided to do something in the full knowledge that it would bring me here and I would have to defend my actions."

Police at the scene of the protests last September which prevented the distribution of millions of newspapers

Extinction Rebellion parked vans across the road in a V formation and built bamboo structures to hang from

The judge told the defendants she noted that it had been a peaceful demonstration, with no damage being caused and no abuse towards the police.

"You all spoke in your own defence with passion and clarity of thought. I take the view to order compensation in this case would not be appropriate.’

Davidson, Norton and Ozden were each given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £150 and a statutory victim surcharge of £22.

Trowland and Bujak were both fined £150 and told to pay costs of £150, plus a victim surcharge of £34.

Speers was fined £200 and ordered to pay £150 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £34.

Two of the defendants were not in court to hear the verdicts

Bujak was unable to attend while Norton had been excluded from the proceedings at the start of the trial when he glued his hand to a table.

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