Nigel Harvey, CEO of Recolight and passionate climate activist was found guilty of causing obstruction during an Extinction Rebellion event in Trafalgar Square on 7th October 2019.
The XR action was the first day of two weeks of action in London.
The hearing, at the City of London magistrates court, dismissed his argument that his actions were proportionate to the scale of the climate crisis that we now living in – and with far worse yet to come – and handed him a nine-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay costs.
The hearing took place on 17th February 2021 and lasted for around two and a half hours. Attendees in the court-room was socially-distanced, with Nigel appearing via a video link from his home.
Cutting through the usual legalese of police statements and who did what when and for what reason, Nigel’s defence statement offered the first real understanding as to why the Extinction Rebellion event took place and why Nigel was there supporting the action.
The tragedy of this situation is that, while everyone present at the trial was playing out their various roles in the courtroom drama (so there was scant chance that Nigel could be found innocent) in the end we will all be in this together – and we will all find ourselves on the same side.
We reproduce Nigel’s defence statement here:
“For the last dozen or so years, like many others I know, I’ve done my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I run a recycling company. I’ve written to my MP. I’ve signed petitions. And yet, the emissions keep increasing.
“Science tells us that within 30 years, the climate emergency will result in millions of deaths, every year. It will result in irreversible destruction of the natural world, and the gradual collapse of our societies arising from widespread famines, flooding, fires, and sea level rises.
“Successive governments have failed to put policies in place that will prevent climate catastrophe. So what else could I do except find the most impactful way to blow the whistle on the inaction of our politicians? In which universe could it possibly be morally justifiable to ignore those facts? That is what made my actions necessary.
“There is not a day goes by that I do not worry about the climate emergency. I think about the risks to my three adult children. I know the climate emergency means they may not reach old age. All three of them are resilient and adaptable. But that may not be enough.
“Once I understood the Extinction Rebellion strategy of using non-violent civil disobedience as a way of pressuring politicians to act, I was completely committed. Exactly the same tactics were used by the independence movement in India and the civil rights movement in the US. Thousands of US civil rights activists, mainly African Americans, were arrested. They were brought before courts, and punished. Many were jailed. They are now regarded as brave crusaders for justice.”
And if you haven’t yet seen the recent conversation between me and Nigel, catch it here: