Saturday September 18, 2021

Judge calls for review after 2nd XR conviction quashed

August 05, 2021

LONDON: A second Extinction Rebellion protest conviction has been quashed in as many days.

Judge Mark Dennis QC called for a review within the Crown Prosecution Service after it offered no evidence in the case of Robert MacQueen on Wednesday.

MacQueen, 65, from Haslemere, in Surrey, had represented himself in his appeal against conviction for wilful obstruction of the free passage along a highway in Whitehall, Westminster, on October 9 2019.

The court heard the alleged offence occurred during an “Autumn uprising” organised by climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion.

On Tuesday, Judge Dennis also quashed the conviction of Emma-Rose Goodwin, 47, from Exeter, when the Crown again offered no evidence after it emerged the arresting officer was in Romania and unable to attend court.

The day before, the appeal of Neil Traynor, 38, Stratford, Greater Manchester, was adjourned until next Wednesday as the arresting officer in his case was also unaware he was needed to give evidence.

More appeals relating to Extinction Rebellion protests are due to be heard before a panel of two magistrates and Judge Dennis sitting at the Old Bailey over two weeks.

In light of the emerging pattern, Judge Dennis said there was a “fundamental problem” as he urged the CPS to review all the remaining appeals where the main issue was “lawful excuse”.

He said: “It was painfully obvious from what was being said yesterday, the prosecution stance was the appellant was lying in the road, that was an obstruction, she was doing it deliberately, no lawful excuse for doing so, full stop.”

He said the Crown had not “grasped” the effect of a Supreme Court ruling in June or the “basic human rights point that has been there for a very long time”. He suggested an early decision be made if the Crown’s position in the next case remained “essentially the same”.