Shell 7 debrief & XR Stroud news

Six of the shell 7 outside Southwark Crown court
Here’s some information on the Shell 7 success, and a little info on what’s to come from XR Stroud. Congratulations to all of the Shell 7, we’re so proud of you.

Shell 7 background

On Friday 23rd April, a jury at Southwark Crown Court, trying six of the Shell 7 for criminal damage found them not guilty.  Katerina had already pleaded guilty because as a breast-feeding mother with three young children she could not attend court in London for a two-week trial.    

After the defendants had given their evidence, the judge had advised the jury that there was no defence in law, although he did allow them to consider Sid’s defence that he believed he had the owners’ consent – a defence which Sid argued brilliantly.  

The verdict

The decision was amazing in so many ways. First, it illustrated the advantages of self-representation; the jury were able to respond to the defendants at a human level.  All six of us represented ourselves, so we spoke directly to the jury about who we are, what we had done and why.  At the heart of the whole judicial circus was this simple process of one ordinary person explaining something to twelve other ordinary people. Because we represented ourselves, in explaining why we had acted as we did, we were allowed to say why we believed there is an emergency, why we believed the government was failing, and why we believed Shell’s crimes dwarfed ours.  

Second, the jury took account of other considerations than the law; it would be wrong to say they ignored the law but they did decide that it was wrong in not taking account of the extraordinary circumstances of the climate and ecological emergency. Their oath was to deliver a true verdict according to ‘all the evidence’, and that’s what they did.  

Third, the jury’s decision to give greater weight to those other circumstances than to the letter of the law, shows that when ordinary people learn about the emergency they can take extraordinary decisions. The unfolding catastrophe is real and people will act if they are given the facts. That gives hope for citizens’ assemblies.

Fourth, the not-guilty verdict cannot be ascribed to hypocrites or crusties: this decision belonged to a cross-section of the community of Southwark, inner-city London residents–across class, age, gender, race. The mainstream media, the trolls and the Home Secretary cannot say it’s just XR extremists.  

The aftermath

It was an emotional experience as well as an exhaustingly steep learning curve. As the verdict was delivered, defendants and jury members alike were in tears – even the judge remarked that it was ‘an interesting case’. Afterwards, we stood outside to soak in what felt like a historic moment, albeit a tiny one. Already, there are encouraging signs that its significance is rippling outwards.

The court stands beside the Thames overlooking the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, and the towers of the City. It felt like our moment with the jury stood at a confluence of history – law, the state, the military and free-market capitalism. And the rising waters will one day soon engulf the court.  

On the following Tuesday, Kat went to court for sentencing. The judge had said he would take into account the jury’s decision on the other six, as well as her testimony about why she had pleaded guilty and she was given a six-month conditional discharge, no fines and no costs. The judge said he would look into her points about the unfairness of not admitting babies into court and the lack of baby-changing facilities.

What’s happening next in XR Stroud

Finally there’s a lot on the horizon for us as a group. We have the G7 in Cornwall, the COP 26 at the end of the year, the end of June kill the bill movement, and new rebellions of one being planned. As well as a full rebellion from August 28.

Now spring is in full force it’s time to start planning what we as a group want to do with the rest of the year. Start your own personal idea generation and we’ll be back in touch both on email and website with info on our next meetings.