A magistrates court has acquitted four GPs who blocked Lambeth Bridge in the climate change protest led by the Extinction Rebellion (XR).
On Tuesday, seven healthcare professionals faced charges of ‘breach of section 14’ of the public order at City of London Magistrates’ Court.
These include four GPs – Dr David McKelvey, Dr Chris Newman, Dr Mark Russell, and Dr Patrick Hart – as well as a hospital consultant obstetrician, a clinical psychologist, and a specialist nurse.
XR reported that Judge Robinson, who ruled over the case, decided that the necessary steps required for imposing the ‘breach of section 14’ had not been taken.
The judge was ‘impressed by the integrity and rationality of their beliefs’ and found doctors’ evidence ‘highly moving’.
The protest took place on 10 April 2022, when a group of around 30 health professionals blocked Lambeth Bridge in London.
They displayed a banner saying ‘For Health’s Sake. Stop Financing Fossil Fuels,’ which aimed to draw attention to the annual financial support of approximately £10 billion for the fossil fuel industry.
The protest took place between 2pm and 4.30pm. After most protesters had already left, the seven health professionals stayed to continue their own blockage.
According to XR, they were all arrested shortly after 5pm.
Dr Patrick Hart, a GP, said: ‘It’s not about our morning coffee being too milky, it’s about the deaths of millions, the loss of everything we care about, in particular the loss of law and order.
‘The level of disruption we caused was proportionate to the problems we face. I don’t want to be arrested, but I accept it as a consequence.’
Defendant Dr Chris Newman, a GP, said: ‘Medical institutions have been printing ever more concerned articles about the risks of climate change to health in the past couple of years, but it has not been enough.’
‘Protest, like this one, is like attempting to shock a failing heart, in the hope it will change its rhythm. ‘
‘Thankfully today, the court recognised that right to protest,’ he added.
In July, Pulse reported on two other GPs arrested after participating in an XR protest in Canary Wharf.