British climate protesters warned of “serious consequences” for ex-Paralympic imprisonment


The judge warned protesters who disrupted people’s lives “faced with serious consequences” after imprisoning a former Paralympic athlete on the roof of a British Airways plane.

Judge Gregory Perins said that Extinction Rebellion activist James Brown, 56, has been registered as blind since birth and “sarcasticly used” his disability in October 2019. He said he “endangered his life” to perform a stunt at London City Airport on the 10th.

A double gold medalist from Exeter boarded an airplane bound for Amsterdam, glued his right hand to the aircraft and pushed his cell phone into the door to prevent it from closing.

Born in Northern Ireland, Brown represented Britain in cycling and athletics, then represented Ireland in cross-country skiing, and livestreamed protests until he was dismissed an hour later.

Southwark Crown Court said a total of 337 passengers canceled flights, missed birthday celebrations, important business meetings and family events, and the turmoil cost airlines about £ 40,000 ($ 54,000). I heard.

James brown
Former Paralympic James Brown in a file photo without a date. (Extinction Rebellion / PA)

Brown, who attended the trial, denied one count of causing pollution, claiming that he “must do something grand” to draw attention to the climate crisis.

However, after a jury deliberated for less than an hour, he was convicted in July and Judge Perins sentenced him to 12 months in prison on Friday.

The judge told Brown: “It is important for people like you who seriously disrupt the lives of the general public and try to justify it in the name of protest, understand that they face serious consequences.

“There is a clear line between legitimate protests and willful violations, and you deliberately crossed it.”

The warning was issued after the climate protester Insulate Britain, a branch of Extinction Rebellion, blocked the port of Dover in Kent on Friday, causing five turmoil in the M25 over the past two weeks.

When Brown was taken to his cell, there were “shame” and “shame” screams among public gallery supporters, and his lawyer said he would appeal the ruling.

The judge acknowledged that Brown was acting according to his conscience and said he was motivated “by the desire to make a change that he truly believes would benefit everyone.”

He also said he recognized that there must be a “some sense of balance” when deciding on those who committed crimes during the protest.

But he told Brown: “In contrast to other causes, you are not eligible for more generous treatment just because you were protesting environmental issues.

“Everyone in this country has the right to protest and there are many ways in which it can be done without violating the law.

“The right to protest gives you the right to cause massive and widespread turmoil at major airports, which has an unavoidable impact on the lives of hundreds of people just because you think it is right. not.

“You claim that your actions are intended to protest, but you target the general public in your daily life, not those who have the power and influence to make the changes you want to see. It is also important to note that you did.

“It was a calculated decision on your part.”

Tim Maloney QC, who defended Brown in a judgment hearing, urged judges to impose fines or community orders instead of imprisonment.

“He expressed his intention not to be involved in illegal protests again,” he said.

“He regrets it and is determined not to be involved in such activities again.”

Maloney said Brown “overcame barriers to a successful and exciting life,” participated in five Paralympics, pursued a career as a math teacher, and engaged in services for children with disabilities in the Gloucestershire County Council. He said he was doing it.

He was also described as a successful businessman by building a conference center aimed at meeting the needs of people with disabilities and establishing Mobiloo, a company that provides facilities for people with disabilities at festivals and events. rice field.

Giving evidence in his trial, his four married fathers, Brown, cried as he told the jury.

HJA Solicitor Radichada, one of Brown’s leading companies, said:

“James, a Paralympic player who has been registered as visually impaired and won a gold medal in five games, should not be put in jail for participating in this protest.

“This is a dangerous decision for those who campaign for freedom of speech, the right to protest, and environmental issues.

“We sue this sentence.”

Alanna Byrne of Extinction Rebellion UK said the ruling “shocked and devastated” the group.

She added:

“I hope James’ courage causes people to question the government’s actions to lock in messengers, rather than listening to calls for action.”

Henry Vaughan