Obstruction of the Highway - Guilty: 18/05/21

Court date



City of London Magistrates’ – Court 1

Hearing date:


Tuesday, 18th May 2021

Bench (DJ or JPs)


District Judge Bisgrove

Charged with:


S137 Wilful Obstruction of the Highway on 18/10/19 at Regent St. junction with Oxford Circus

Represented by:


Mr. Mak (Bindmans)

Please outline key points in prosecution and defence cases.


CPS were quick to go through the facts of the arrest. Defendant had knelt at the junction at the end of a line of protesters, facing the stopped traffic, with a placard showing a picture of Earth taken from Space saying, “Love and Grief for the Earth”. She had not moved when asked – repeatedly. The arresting officer was quite taken with the calm demeanour of the defendant, saying she was very “friendly”.

Defendant, aged 63, is from Oxford, her wife is a scientific expert. Defendant has degrees in Human Ecology and Psychology. She trains groups like XR in non-violence, de-escalation, defusing tension, and calm self-discipline generally. She had been involved in campaigns for years, back to peace marches, nuclear testing protests, forests, climate change, species loss, road building. She left the best to last: she supported the women who disabled the Hawk fighter aircraft that were to be sold to Indonesia when it was obliterating the East Timorese population. She explained the psychology of climate change: cognitive dissonance - when a problem is big, so complex that we don’t want to believe it; even people who understand it, ignore it, it’s too hard. Here ecological knowledge explained how the loss of one species can destroy a whole system of plants and animals, a system we may rely on for our food.

She joined XR when she saw it was centred on non-violence. She was then shocked by the science and how bad the situation was.  She taught de-escalation to volunteers so that by the last day of the Rebellion, she was confident enough to leave them to it and protest herself. That was when she was arrested.

The CPS asked her if she knelt in the road? Yes. Did she obstruct traffic? With the help of my friends, yes. Did she choose to do it? Yes. Did anyone or anything force her to do it? The government.

Was defence evidence submitted in writing?



Did defence witness(es) give evidence in person? Were they cross-examined?

Defendant was the sole defence witness.



What was the verdict,
sentence, costs?


CPS then suggested £775 (the usual) costs. Defence said that she had little income since retiring several years ago and no savings, she was supported by her partner.

Absolute discharge; £200 costs; (no victim surcharge for an absolute discharge)

Please add anything else relevant.


The judge was almost apologetic in his verdict. He issued a list of historical actions like nuclear testing protests – unlawful; US civil rights – unlawful; South African civil rights – unlawful; Suffragettes – unlawful; but they all achieved change. He left a pregnant pause, allowing us to silently think, “I hope your’s achieves change too”, but we’ll never know for sure.