Scientists for XR Appeal Against Conviction Allowed by Crown Court


On 10 February 2022 at Southwark Crown Court, HHJ Rimmer overturned the criminal damage convictions of four Scientists for Extinction Rebellion.

The charge arose from the scientists’ participation in a peaceful protest, staged in lab coats and held at the offices of the former Department of Business, Skills, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in April 2022. The protest, organised by Scientists for Extinction Rebellion, aimed to draw attention to the Government’s facilitation of new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

The four protestors were convicted by a District Judge in September 2022, and despite the acquittal of their five co-protestors the following month, their appeal was contested by the Crown.

The appeal was allowed on a joint submission of no case to answer, on the grounds that (i) the CPS had demonstrated no evidence of “damage”; and (ii) the convictions handed down by the District Judge constituted a disproportionate interference with the protestors’ rights of freedom of expression and assembly. Overturning the convictions on both grounds, HHJ Rimmer also noted the Court’s “discomfort at the conviction of these four, arbitrarily divided [from the other protestors] purely for reasons of convenience and trial management”. 

Robbie Stern represented Dr Knapp, instructed by Hester Cavaciuti of Bindmans LLP.

Rosalind Comyn represented Mr Benatt, Dr Cox and Professor Davis, instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones & Allen.

Read the Extinction Rebellion press release here.