THREE MEMBERS of Christian Climate Action (CCA) were found not guilty of causing a public nuisance by a Crown Court jury on 11 January, in a trial relating to Insulate Britain’s campaign of nonviolent civil resistance. The campaign was undertaken to demand that the UK government insulates Britain’s cold and leaky homes. 

The three Christians, the Rev Sue Parfitt, from Bristol, Benjamin Buse, from Somerset and Ruth Jarman from Hampshire, were declared not guilty of causing a public nuisance in relation to the Insulate Britain roadblock at Cranford Parkway on the M4 motorway on 1 October 2021. The trio were on trial alongside another Insulate Britain member, Christian Rowe, from Southwark, who was also found not guilty. The jury took around four hours to deliberate before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict.

The trial, which began on Monday 2 January at Inner London Crown Court, started with Judge Silas Reid ruling that the three defendants have no defence in law against the charge of causing a public nuisance by blocking the motorway. They were each barred from referring to the climate crisis, insulation or fuel poverty during their defence.

Speaking after the verdict, the Rev Sue Parfitt said: “Despite all the odds I am thankful that 12 of my fellow citizens were able to see the bigger picture and, even when directed by the judge to find us guilty, they were able to understand that the unprecedented times in which we live calls for us all to step out of the box and make courageous decisions. Thank you jury.

“I think reasonable people can see that inconveniencing a few people on their way to work does not compare with the appalling threat to humanity caused by the blindness, stubbornness and greed of just a few people, including our government. We must keep on doing our best, giving our all and obeying God’s calling to us.”

Ruth Jarman, mother of three, said: “I took part in Insulate Britain because my Christian faith pushes me to stand up for the poor and vulnerable. The government has long been aware that Britain has some of the leakiest homes in Europe. And now we have a cost-of-living crisis where people can’t afford to pay their energy bills. I am overjoyed at being found not-guilty. However it is also so painful to think of the lives that might have been spared over the years if our governments had just acted to insulate Britain’s homes.”

Christian Climate action says the outcome raises doubts for future Insulate Britain trials. The first Insulate Britain jury trial was deferred until June 2023 after the Judge dismissed the jury and asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether proceeding with the trial was in the public interest. The second Jury trial resulted in a unanimous not guilty verdict, and a third trial ended in another deferral.

Insulate Britain is a campaign group that is calling on the UK government to put in place policy and funding for a national home insulation programme starting with all social housing by 2025, and to create a meaningful plan to insulate the entire UK housing stock by 2030.

* Source: Christian Climate Action