Brighton man acquitted by judge after Extinction Rebellion oil rig protest
An Extinction Rebellion protestor from Brighton who was charged with aggravated trespass after occupying a Surrey oil rig in October last year has been acquitted.
Lindsay Parkin, 56, a management consultant from Brighton, appeared at Staines Magistrates Court this week (22 April) over the charge.
He was arrested after he and Alistair Sandell, 52, a horticulturalist from Uckfield, entered the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) Horse Hill oil extraction site near Horley, in the early hours of 10 October 2020.
The two men climbed an oil rig on site to a platform 15 metres above the ground, where they hung a banner saying ‘No More Oil’ and remained there for 12 hours, in protest against UKOG’s plans to extract oil and gas from the site, according to an Extinction Rebellion spokesman.
During his court appearance, Mr Parkin, who represented himself, said his action was proportionate and necessary given ‘the fact that human-made climate change is increasing the global average temperature and leading to rising sea levels, extreme weather events, crop failure, water shortage and wild fire, is no longer in dispute’.
He added: “The only way to slow this carnage is to stop burning fossil fuels – there are no other solutions.”
The judge explained that for Mr Parkin to be found guilty of the offence, he must be carrying out an activity which disrupts the company’s business.
She concluded that she could not be absolutely certain whether the site was operational at the time and acquitted Parkin of the charge.
Following the trial, Mr Parkin said he was ‘pleased and elated’ by the judge’s decision.
He added: “As with many of our dealings with UKOG we tell the truth with a simple message, courage and direct action to highlight the climate emergency.
“We occupied the rig to highlight its presence in that beautiful place and the harm it is doing.
“This message was widely spread and created the interest that it should, which was our sole purpose in this action.
“Our exertions in spreading that message have been accepted to not meet the charge of ‘aggravated trespass.’
“Non-violent direct action has proven its worth in calling out the madness of continued oil extraction on this marginal site and everywhere.”
The occupation of the oil rig was part of a series of actions by Extinction Rebellion at the Horse Hill site over the past twenty months including slow walks, activists ‘locking on’ across the site gates and occupying containers within the site.
The protests aim to highlight the continued oil extraction at the Horse Hill site despite the declaration of a climate emergency by both the UK Government and Surrey County Council in 2019, Extinction Rebellion said.
UKOG declined to comment on the court case.