Britain’s top lawyers say they will refuse to prosecute climate activists
A group of top lawyers have declared they will refuse to prosecute climate activists.
Around 120 of Britain’s most eminent lawyers are set to sign a “Declaration of Conscience” stating they will not prosecute eco-protestors brought before the courts.
Prominent lawyers such as Joylon Maugham KC and Sir Geoffrey Bindman KC, and other members of the group “Lawyers are Responsible,” are among the potential signatories, according to the Daily Mail.
Mr Maugham is an activist lawyer who has challenged the Government on a number of issues including Brexit and PPE contracts, while Sir Geoffrey is one of Britain’s most renowned human rights lawyers, who is a member of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights.
It comes as groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil have caused disruption to vital public services and infrastructure in recent years, by blocking traffic and printing presses, and chaining themselves to oil refineries.
Other potential signatories include Tim Crosland, a former barrister and director of Plan B Earth, a group which mounts legal challenges against governments which fall foul of climate pledges, and Prof Leslie Thomas KC, who specialises in claims against the police.
Prof Thomas told the Daily Mail that while he intends to sign in a show of solidarity, this does not mean he will refuse cases that he is assigned.
The declaration has been met with opprobrium from some members of the legal profession who say it undermines the notion that everyone is entitled to legal representation, no matter the crime.
Robert Buckland, a Conservative MP and the former justice secretary, told the Daily Mail: “There are plenty of people lawyers represent who are deeply unpleasant and deeply unpopular, such as rapists and paedophiles.
“But they are entitled to a fair trial. When lawyers start picking and choosing, in a way it undermines the independence of the legal profession.”
It comes as a survey has called the efficacy of green protests in which activists blocked roads and threw soup over a Van Gogh artwork into doubt.
The soup stunt by activists from the Just Stop Oil group, and roadblocks of the M25 by Insulate Britain had more than 50 per cent disapproval in a study of 3,000 people conducted last year by Opinium.
Both protests increased support for the view that “climate action will do nothing but make us all colder and poorer”, the survey found.