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Today’s climate activist ‘criminals’ are tomorrow’s heroes: Silencing them in court is immoral

By George Monbiot

22 Feb 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

In the UK, climate activists have been banned for mentioning the climate crisis when on the stand in court. The Guardian argues that silencing these activists is immoral.

To tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”: this is the oath defendants in an English court must take. But when David Nixon sought to do so, he was sent to jail.

Nixon, who had taken part in an Insulate Britain protest blocking a junction in the City of London, was on trial for causing a public nuisance, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He sought to explain his motivation to the jury. But the judge, Silas Reid, had instructed the defendants not to mention their reasons for taking action: namely climate breakdown, fuel poverty and the need for better insulation. When Nixon disregarded this instruction, Reid handed him an eight-week jail sentence for contempt of court.

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