It started on 7th February 2023 when Judge Silas Reid sent care worker David Nixon to prison for eight weeks, not for sitting in a road in protest against climate inaction and against fuel poverty (as part of an Insulate Britain protest), but for using the words ‘climate’ and ‘fuel poverty’ in his court.

Then on 3rd March, Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis were also sent to prison by Judge Reid, for daring to challenge his ban on the words ‘climate change’ in his court. The judge accused Gio of deliberately disrespecting the court, and she replied “No Judge, that’s not true – I did it because your order was crushing my human spirit.”

It appears that what Judge Reid was doing was attempting to pervert a tenet of the legal system, in fact the ultimate safeguard in the process, by preventing the jury from hearing anything that might prick their conscience, by crushing their power to acquit on the basis of that conscience. By denying them the right to hear the motivation and background to a protest, he seems to have limited a long-established power of a jury, and acted as a gatekeeper in order to manipulate the outcome.

In 1670, leading Quakers William Penn and William Mead appeared at the Old Bailey after holding an “unlawful” assembly (a Quakers meeting) in nearby Gracechurch Street. But records show that the jury refused to find them guilty, modifying their verdict to merely ‘holding an assembly’.

The jury were held two days without food, and the judge fined them all and imprisoned them until paid. But Edward Bushel refused to pay, staying in jail for weeks, until eventually managing to overturn the ruling in an appeal at which the Lord Chief Justice Sir John Vaughan established the principle that a judge “may try to open the eyes of the jurors, but not to lead them by the nose”. This established the independence of the jury to this day.

In response to Judge Reid’s actions last year, concerned lawyers held rallies, and activists (Fair Justice Project) began pasting posters near the court that read “Juries – you have a right to acquit a defendant on your conscience”.

Source – Fair Justice Project

The posters were soon removed, and even Judge Reid himself was seen tearing them down. So, on the 27th March, Trudi Warner stood outside his court holding a placard with the same wording in her hands.

Source – Insulate Britain

When she was arrested, by order of Judge Reid, a series of events was set in train which has ended this week with further serious questions over the judge’s actions, his legal directions, and his fitness to preside over cases involving acts of conscience, some of which may now be challenged as unsafe verdicts. Campaigners are planning to add new evidence to the complaint already submitted against Judge Reid at the High Court.

After Trudi’s arrest, Judge Reid referred the matter to the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, where she appeared in front of The Honourable Mr Justice Cavanagh on the 4th April. Cavanagh in turn referred the matter on, this time to the Attorney General.

Several supporters held versions of Trudi’s placard outside the Old Bailey – they were ignored by police, but one woman was arrested inside the court, apparently in connection with the Fair Justice posters near Judge Reid’s court.

The Old Bailey is situated just down the road from Gracechurch Street where the Quakers held their assembly. A plaque can be seen by jurors attending the building – it is on open public display outside Court 1. It commemorates Edward Bushel’s victory and it references the court’s decision with the closing words establishing “the right of juries to give their verdict according to their convictions”.

Credit – Flickr – Paul Clarke

The Defend Our Juries campaign group organised further protests outside courts, sometimes where particular protest trials were taking place, and sometimes randomly right across the country as the movement grew. Despite further threats from Judge Reid, there were no more arrests. He also backed down when charity director Mary Adams ignored his warning at a later Insulate Britain trial, explaining her motives in full to the jury – that trial ended in a hung jury with no convictions.

In July 2023 at Isleworth Crown Court, Judge Martin Edmunds abandoned the trial of Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder Gail Bradbrook after protesters sat outside the building with placards, and delivered an open letter to him. He also imposed reporting restrictions preventing any press coverage. Gail was accused of criminal damage for cracking an expensive window in a protest about HS2 at the Department of Transport. The following week, more than 20 campaigners returned outside his court with their placards (some blank) in a further action, even though no protest trials were listed that day.

Over the course of the Defend Our Juries campaign, dozens of placard holders have been referred to the Attorney General for contempt of court, but it became apparent that a test case would have to be brought to clarify the law first, and in due course Trudi received a letter from the Government’s Legal Department, along with an indictment of 133 pages.

Around the same time, the Attorney General Victoria Prentiss was accused of having undisclosed economic family links to fossil fuel interests via undeclared shareholdings in BP and HSBC.

In November, eight women faced a three-week trial after cracking windows at the HSBC bank. The jury was allowed to hear their motives along with information about HSBC’s financing of fossil fuels, but the case was heard after the Colston Statue ruling, so their judge ruled out any lawful excuse other than ‘belief in consent’.

[The Colston ruling was an earlier legal clarification sought by the Attorney General following the acquittal of protesters who had toppled the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. The ruling now deprives protesters of human rights defences in court if damage was caused to private property, or in the case of public property if anything more than trivial damage occurred.]

The HSBC women had to rely on their one lawful defence. The defendant must show that they genuinely believed that if the people who own or are in charge of a building, statue or other item, knew ALL the circumstances around the damage, then they would have consented to it. Despite this rather convoluted defence, several high profile cases have still led to acquittals, notably the HSBC women, various members of the direct action ‘Beyond Politics/Burning Pink’ group on trial last year, and several acquittals and a hung jury in the trial of Palestine Action’s “Elbit Eight” among them.

A new Solicitor General, climate sceptic Robert Courts, was appointed on December 7th.

There is some evidence of Israeli influence over the Attorney General due to their frustration at the success of Palestine Action in disrupting Elbit System’s deadly business in the UK.

There is also evidence that think-tanks funded by fossil fuel interests are behind powerful lobbying for the legal crackdown on protest.

The campaign continued unabated and 40 people signed a letter to the Solicitor General saying that they had done the same as Trudi, inviting prosecution. In September, more than 250 people held placards at courts up and down the country in a nationwide action, and the next action in December attracted around 500. In February another 300 people wrote to the Solicitor General inviting prosecution for their copycat placard actions.


In January, after a fact-finding mission to the UK, the UN Special Rapporteur for Environmental Defenders, Michael Forst, expressed serious concern over the legal crackdown on protest here. In his statement he wrote that he “was … alarmed to learn that, in some recent cases, presiding judges have forbidden environmental defenders from explaining to the jury their motivation for participating in a given protest or from mentioning climate change at all.

It is very difficult to understand what could justify denying the jury the opportunity to hear the reason for the defendant’s action, and how a jury could reach a properly informed decision without hearing it, in particular at the time of environmental defenders’ peaceful but ever more urgent calls for the government to take pressing action for the climate.”

In February 2024, five women faced trial in front of Judge Silas Reid at Inner London Crown Court, charged with criminal damage for cracking the windows at the HQ of fossil fuel financiers J P Morgan in September 2021.

While the trial was sitting, the Attorney General sought another ‘clarification’ at the Court of Appeal, over the use of ‘belief in consent’ as a lawful excuse in protest cases. The resulting ruling severely limits the scope of this defence in protest cases, and as a result, the jury at the J P Morgan trial were instructed by Judge Reid that the five women had no lawful excuse.

Outside the trial another silent placard action took place. The protesters were warned, apparently at the behest of the judge, that if they returned the following day they would be arrested. Real Media filmed the next day, but no court staff nor any police engaged with this second protest in any way – it appeared the warning had been simply more intimidation with no substance in law.

Meanwhile inside the court, Judge Reid was directing the jury with reference to the protest outside, telling them that the placards were “misstating the law” and “improperly trying to influence jurors”. He even warned the jury it was “a criminal offence for a juror to do anything from which it may be concluded that a decision will be made on anything other than the evidence in the case”.

Judge Reid’s directions to jury


On 18th April, Trudi’s case had its committal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice. This type of hearing is to decide whether a case has merit to proceed to a full Divisional Hearing at the High Court, which in Trudi’s case would mean civil proceedings with criminal sanctions of up to two years imprisonment. Dozens of supporters turned up and held placards outside the High Court.

In Court 16, Mr Justice Saini heard the Solicitor General’s barrister, Aidan Eardley, claim that Trudi had tried to interfere with potential jurors outside Judge Reid’s court, suggesting she had deliberately prevented them from travelling to or from the court ‘without let or hindrance’. He argued that it made no difference whether the banner was factually correct or not, but it was an aggravating factor that it was also incorrect, claiming that jurors have a ‘power’ to acquit, but not a ‘right’.

Trudi’s barrister, Clare Montgomery KC, argued that Trudi had just acted as a ‘human billboard’, stating a simple fact of law and that the difference between right and power was effectively semantics.



Justice Saini reserved judgement until 21st April, and last Monday, supporters again gathered outside the court waiting to hear his decision. He began by saying he had watched the CCTV evidence of Trudi’s actions, and did not agree with Eardley’s characterisation that Trudi was following jurors or interfering with them in any way. Considering whether her actions had any serious effect on the trial, he noted that Judge Reid had not abandoned the trial and had only given a brief extra direction to the jury – there was no suggestion that the fairness of the trial had been affected.

Addressing the question of whether juries have a right or a power, he simply referred to the Old Bailey plaque, which calls it a right, and he said that jury equity is a long-established legal principle which is not in dispute.

There is a tension in our legal system, whereby juries are not told about this right by lawyers and judges inside courts, and they are directed to act simply on the evidence which they have heard. But there is still a fundamental right (and a valuable safeguard against unjust application of laws) that they can, and do, acquit on their conscience. It is not illegal to discuss this right or publicise it outside of courts, but there’s a sort of ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ not to bring it up in the course of a trial.

What Trudi (and others) have done is protected by Article 10 rights to freedom of expression and poses no substantial risk of prejudice under the 1981 Contempt Of Court Act. The placard, Justice Saini said, accurately informs jurors of their power and does not constitute any attempt to influence them. In denying the Attorney General permission to proceed, he said it was “fanciful to suggest that Ms Warner’s conduct [amounted to common law contempt]”.

Thanks to Trudi Warner’s brave stance, the right to acquit has been formally restated, and the right to publicise it and inform juries has been established beyond doubt. In so many protest cases – against inequality, fuel poverty, arms sales, climate and ecological destruction and genocide – our lawmakers (influenced by dark forces) are making it harder and harder to argue for justice in court. With little or no lawful excuses available in defence of protest actions, it is very important that juries (the remaining safeguard against government injustice) are aware of their power. Now Trudi has proved it still exists and we are all free to publicise it.

If you have a friend or a relative called up for jury service, show them this article and film and put them in touch with Defend Our Juries, so they know their rights and their power when called on to pass judgement on fellow citizens.