Just Stop Oil activists said they were celebrating “a huge victory” last night after a group of more than 120 leading lawyers declared they would not prosecute “peaceful” climate protesters.
Eco-campaigns said the statement could be a useful tactic in court against prosecutors, who might be asked: ‘You have colleagues who refuse to prosecute, why are you prosecuting me?’
As the Daily Mail revealed yesterday, a group called ‘Lawyers Are Responsible’ has signed a statement saying it will refuse to prosecute climate activists.
Top lawyers, including Good Law Project founder Jolyon Maugham, have endorsed the statement. Other big backers include Sir Geoffrey Bindman KC, President of the Human Rights Institute, Michael Mansfield KC and Professor Leslie Thomas KC, although Professor Thomas said he will continue to abide by the ‘taxi rank’ rule.
In recent months, Just Stop Oil protesters have blocked highways, scaled highway gantries, and splattered old master paintings with soup. More than 2,000 have been arrested and 138 jailed, with trials ongoing.
Just Stop Oil activists said they were celebrating “a huge victory” last night after a group of more than 120 leading lawyers declared they would not prosecute “peaceful” climate protesters. Pictured: Activists hold a banner outside London’s Inner Crown Court earlier this month.
While Just Stop Oil claims to be peaceful protesters, their roadside protests have been accused of stopping ambulances and fire trucks responding to 999 calls.
Writing in The Guardian, Mr Maugham called eco-activists ‘courageous friends’ that ‘the law wrongly criminalises’.
He wrote: ‘We should not be forced to work for the unfair ends of the law by helping deliver new fossil fuel projects. We should not be forced to prosecute our brave friends whose conduct, in protesting the destruction of the planet, is wrongly criminalized by law.”
But his words provoked a backlash from legal and political experts yesterday. Sir Ivan Lawrence KC, who defended Ronnie Kray on murder charges, denounced the move, as did the Criminal Bar Association, who said it risks undermining justice.
A jubilant Just Stop Oil campaigner wrote yesterday: ‘Everyone involved in Just Stop Oil should celebrate this as a great victory and take a moment to enjoy it and smile. This means that for those of us in court we can look prosecutors in the eye and say, ‘Why are you prosecuting me? You have colleagues who refuse to do it, you should also refuse to do it.’
But Tana Adkin KC, vice president of the Criminal Bar Association, criticized the statement, saying: “A lawyer who also brings his own personal or political views to court is in danger of failing in his duty to represent either party to independently and it is this independence that preserves the fairness of our justice system.
‘Lawyers continue to accept instructions under the ‘taxi rank’ rule, that is, the next case to be accepted by a chamber which is a great tradition of the Bar Association. This ensures that whatever the crime, whatever the person or the views of the lawyer, justice will be done in accordance with the law.’
Esther Krakue (right) criticized one of the signatories, lawyer Paul Powlesland, on the TV show Jeremy Vine on 5, calling the protesters “unemployed hobbits”. Pictured: (left to right) Storm Huntley, Nina Myskow Jeremy Vine, Katie Price and Krakue at Jeremy Vine on the 5th
And Sir Ivan, who is vice-president of the Society of Conservative Lawyers, said: ‘I am a traditionalist and my personal view is that we should abide by the ‘taxi rank’ rule for all its advantages, particularly with regard to the worst types of offences. .’ He said the statement “must be duly discussed and resolved by the authorities who have the power to do so,” adding: “So far that has not happened.”
Meanwhile, TV presenter Esther Krakue criticized one of the signatories, lawyer Paul Powlesland, on the TV show Jeremy Vine on 5, calling the protesters “unemployed hobbits”. She said yesterday: ‘There is nothing peaceful about sticking to the M25 and thinking it can’t cause serious violence… it can cause loss of life, it can cause a car crash, people are just trying to get on with their normal lives. .
‘They are not unemployed hobbits who have the luxury of clinging to public buildings.’
And The ‘Secret Lawyer,’ the best-selling anonymous author, said yesterday: ‘The day I decide I can’t defend or prosecute someone for what they’re accused of, is the day I should look for another profession.’
David Durose KC said: “My view is that this statement, or however it is presented, is almost an insult to the Criminal Law Association.”
Last night, Sir Bob Neill MP, chairman of the executive committee of the Conservative Lawyers Society, looking at the list of signatories, said that “very few of them have experience in criminal work”, adding: “Then the likelihood that may be asked to put their money where their mouth is, it’s non-existent.’
The Remainer who bragged about the brutal killing of foxes
By Sam Greenhill, Chief Reporter
Jolyon Maugham KC of the Good Law Project
To his worshipers, Remainer Jolyon Maugham KC is a superhero lawyer who wields the sword of truth to hold power to account.
His self-described crusade practicing law of the land “to protect the interests of the public” brought him to prominence when he launched legal claims like grenades in an attempt to block Brexit.
But even his admirers have to admit that what remains most famous is beating a fox to death while wearing his wife’s green satin kimono.
The fox had gotten caught in Mr. Maugham’s garden fence. Hungover from Christmas Day, Mr Maugham savagely beat the animal, before gleefully bragging on Twitter: “Already this morning I killed a fox with a baseball bat.” How’s your Boxing Day going?
His 2019 tweet caused a storm and 48,000 people signed a petition demanding that the Crown Prosecution Service charge him with cruelty.
He avoided prosecution by the RSPCA after a post-mortem examination showed the fox had been “quickly killed”.
Maugham apologized for the tone of his tweet, but said his chickens were in distress.
Maugham, 51, has launched a series of legal challenges under the banner of the Good Law Project, his nonprofit firm created in 2017 to help achieve “a progressive society.”
He apologized last year after his group falsely announced that it had “won” a court case against Matt Hancock over the appointment of Tory colleague Dido Harding during the pandemic, when in fact the High Court judge had ruled that the case of the group “fails entirely”. .
To be fair, the judge ruled that Baroness Harding’s appointment was illegal, it just wasn’t the Good Law Project case that made it so.
He also apologized after comparing Dominic Cummings violating confinement rules to ‘an HIV-positive man having unprotected sex’.
He further admitted that “I can do better” after being accused of portraying Tories as racists for tweeting during last year’s leadership contest: “Do you think your party members are ready to select a brown man, Rishi?”
Maugham did not respond to requests for comment.