Extinction Rebellion: Lawyer representing 300 protesters says prosecuting activists ‘beggars belief’

Jacob Jarvis, Evening Standard

A lawyer representing hundreds of Extinction Rebellion protesters said it “beggars belief” so many of them are being prosecuted.

It comes as two courtrooms are being set aside for a day each week at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for 19 weeks, to deal with Extinction Rebellion protesters arrested in mass demonstrations across the capital.

Around 35 protesters are due to appear at City of London magistrates’ court on Friday, while it is thought more than 50 will be summonsed every Friday in August.

Solicitor Raj Chada, from Hodge Jones and Allen, which represents around 300 of the protesters, who were calling for action on climate issues, said the prosecutions are a waste of money.

“To prosecute 1,000 people for peaceful protests beggars belief,” he said.

“At a time when more and more violent crimes aren’t being prosecuted the CPS has decided to waste taxpayers’s money by dragging all of those arrested from Extinction Rebellion in front of the courts.

“Figures show that around nine per cent of crimes in the UK lead to a criminal charge, yet when it comes to peaceful protesters they are trying to charge 100 per cent.

“The simple fact is that most of those protesters will get nothing more than a conditional discharge or fine.

“How can this amount of court time and money be wasted on this? The priority should be to tackle the climate crisis that threatens us rather than the prosecution of peaceful protesters.”

But a senior Met officer insisted protesters had chosen to ignore restrictions put in place by police to try to limit the disruption. (emphasis mine)

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