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Extinction Rebellion Co-Founder Convicted for Smashing Department for Transport Glass: Her Planned Speech to the Jury in Full

Dr Gail Bradbrook had been threatened with contempt of court for giving her motivations for direct action. She carried on through over a dozen interruptions.

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook, pictured at a London protest in 2021. Photo: NurPhoto SRL / Alamy Stock Photo

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The retrial of Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder for breaking a £27,000 pane of glass at the Department for Transport in 2019 has concluded with her conviction for criminal damage today (November 1) at Isleworth Crown Court. 

Byline Times can now publish the speech that Dr Gail Bradbrook planned to give to the jury during the trial.

The judge ruled that she had no defence in law for her actions, which Dr Bradbrook accepted. But XR activists had hoped the jury might acquit her on grounds of conscience. This didn’t happen and she was found guilty. She is due to receive her sentence on December 18.

Allies had feared she would face contempt charges for defying an order not to tell the jury her climate-based motivations for her actions, but the judge appeared to withdraw this threat. Threats of a so-called Section 46 judge-only trial – a provision brought into law for cases of organised crime to avoid witness intimidation – were also withdrawn.

After her conviction, Extinction Rebellion said that authorities should be “prosecuting the politicians and corporations causing criminal damage on a ‘planetary scale’, not the ordinary people trying to stop harm.” 

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Dr Bradbrook had pointed to evidence recently revealed by The Times, that the Department of Transport’s controversial HS2 project – which formed part of the motivation for her actions – was a “multi-billion pound fraud” on the British public. However, the judge directed the jury that that did not amount to a defence.

Speaking after the verdict, Dr Bradbrook said: “I’m at peace with the verdict…What does it tell us that there is no accountability for those causing damage on a national and planetary scale…but that a mother taking action to protect her children, according to the scientific evidence, is treated as a criminal? Trust in a system that reaches such inhuman conclusions can’t last.”

Dr Bradbrook attempted to give the following speech to the jury in full. She was interrupted around 15 times by the judge, as he said her motives were not relevant. The jury was also sent out three times as she attempted to give her reasoning for her actions. 

We reproduce her planned speech to the jury in full.


‘Refusing to Let Me Say My Motives is Incompatible with the Right to a Fair Trial’

Dr Gail Bradbrook’s Planned Statement to the Jury Before Her Conviction. 

Since October 2019, when I took the action that I’m now charged with, there’ve been a lot of legal rulings and a lot of twists and turns. The law keeps changing and it’s hard for anyone to know where they stand. I’d like to check, I’ve understood the cumulative effect of the rulings: 

First, about what I am permitted and not permitted to tell the jury about my actions; Second, the situation concerning witnesses Third, what I am permitted and not permitted to say about the role of the jury. 

[On] what I am permitted to say about my actions: In 2021, the Court of Appeal ruled that those taking peaceful direct action were banned from telling a jury that their actions were necessary to prevent loss of life. 

In 2022, the Court of Appeal ruled that they were also banned from putting it to a jury that their actions were a proportionate response, in accordance with the Human Rights Act. 

Last Thursday you ruled that I could not present an argument to the jury that I believed that those with the right to consent to my action on the Department of Transport would have consented if they knew the full circumstances and were free from coercive pressure. 

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The cumulative effect of these rulings, as I understand it, is that I am not allowed to present any defence to the jury. There will be a jury trial, at substantial expense to the public. But a trial in which only one side of the story gets told, and in which the role of the jury is essentially to rubber-stamp the directions of the judge. 

Since you have ruled that I have no defence, you have also deemed that nothing I say to explain myself will be accepted as relevant and admissible evidence. You said at one of the pre-trial reviews on 21.10.22 that if I failed to attend court I “would miss out on the opportunity to tell the jury my side of what happened”. Those were your words, judge. It turns out there was a condition attached to that. I.e. your rulings that, legally speaking, my side of the story does not exist. 

My understanding is that I will be permitted to talk to the jury, as long as I don’t try to say anything directly relating to the allegation against me. I will be allowed to talk about my background – my qualifications, my family etc, etc. Because that will create the illusion that I am free to talk (it would be too revealing if I were literally prevented from saying anything). But I am not allowed to explain to the jury why I did what I did. I am not allowed to explain the context or motives for my action. The jury must decide the case without that context. 

If I try to explain why I did what I did, I will be treated as being in contempt of court and may be sent to prison. Alternatively, you will proceed to a judge only trial. 

Second – the situation concerning witnesses  I have served two expert witness statements on the court. The first concerns the Department of Transport’s suppression of evidence that the expansion of Heathrow Airport and other projects would cause the Paris Agreement temperature limit to be breached, with catastrophic implications for the public

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The second concerns the state’s failure to investigate serious allegations that those in power are knowingly taking actions that will cause mass loss of life, and the destruction of whole countries and regions of the world. 

You have ruled that these statements are inadmissible and that they may not be presented to the jury.  Also I am not permitted to [present] compelling evidence, as recently reported in the Times, that the HS2 project, led by the Department of Transport, was a multi-billion pound ‘fraud against the British public’. 

Neither am I permitted to provide the jury with the full account of what I said to the police. 

Third – what I am permitted to say about the role of the jury. You have disputed the existence of the jury’s right to acquit a defendant, irrespective of the directions of the judge, and do not propose to inform the jury of that right. 

Last week, I presented you with judgments of the higher courts concerning the role of the jury. In the case of Goncalves, [2011] EWCA Crim 1703, [2013] 2 CrAppR 14 (at [38]), the Court of Appeal said: “… a jury is entitled to acquit and its reasons for doing so are unknown. It is their right which cannot be questioned.” 

In the case of Wang [2005] UKHL 9, the House of Lords said: “As it is, however, the acquittals of such high profile defendants as Ponting, Randle and Pottle have been quite as much welcomed as resented by the public, which over many centuries has adhered tenaciously to its historic choice that decisions on the guilt of defendants charged with serious crime should rest with a jury of lay people, randomly selected, and not with professional judges. 

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That the last word should rest with the jury remains, as Sir Patrick Devlin, writing in 1956, said:…: “an insurance that the criminal law will conform to the ordinary man’s idea  of what is fair and just. If it does not, the jury will not be a party to its enforcement …. The executive knows that in dealing with the liberty of the subject it must not do anything which would seriously disturb the conscience of the average member of Parliament or of the average juryman. I know of no other real checks that exist today upon the power of the executive.”

Because you are directing the jury that I have no defence, these statements of principle are highly relevant to me. They are the only thing I have left. The jury’s right to acquit despite your direction I have no defence. 

But you have ruled that I cannot present the jury with these principles, either by reading them out directly or by summarising them. 

The effect of your ruling is that the jury’s right to acquit, which has been acknowledged by the Court of Appeal, must be concealed from the jury. If I attempt to communicate to the jury their right, so that they can exercise it, I will likewise be in contempt of court. 

I may be sent to prison and you may discharge the jury. 

I would like to be clear on my position. I am an honest person. I have understood your rulings. But they are incompatible with the right to a fair trial, which is protected by law. They are inconsistent with the oath I will take, when giving evidence, to tell the whole truth. 


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