Extinction Rebellion co-founder admits deliberately smashing window at bank
By Court reporter | 12th July 2021
Extinction Rebellion co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook, who admits deliberately smashing a window at Barclays Bank in Stroud, Glos, in March, told a judge today that the manager would have given her permission to cause the damage if he had known why she was doing it.
The 49 year old environmental campaigner, of Farmhill Lane, Stroud, said she intends to claim during her trial that she did the damage out of 'necessity' or 'duress' - and that if Barclays management had known the reasons they would have consented to her actions.
Extinction Rebellion has stated that the window smashing was to draw attention to Barclays' investments in fossil fuels which are 'helping to drive the climate and ecological emergency.'
The direct action group co-founded by Dr Bradbrook has stated on its website "Barclays are the biggest funders of fossil fuels in Europe, financing fracking, coal, and Arctic oil and gas extraction."
However, Dr Bradbrook got short shrift today from Cheltenham Magistrates Court district judge Martin Brown, sitting at Gloucester Crown Court, when she explained her reasons for denying the charge.
He told her she had no defence and would be convicted. He warned her that insisting on a trial rather than pleading guilty would land her with a big costs bill - estimated between £620 and £775.
Dr Bradbrook nevertheless went on to plead not guilty to the charge of damaging a window of Barclays Bank in King Street, Stroud, on March 30th this year, intending to destroy or damage it or being reckless whether it would be damaged or destroyed.
As soon as she had said 'Not Guilty' to the charge the judge asked 'Why? You have obviously admitted it to the police. Your defence cannot be one of necessity, duress, or anything else as far as I can tell.
"I know what your case is, but you must understand that doesn't give you the right to smash a window in Barclays Bank. Yes, I respect your views but people who have a sincerely held belief are allowed to demonstrate not to cause damage.
"If you were entitled to go around putting in the windows of buildings just because you don't like what the owners do we would be living in anarchy.
"If you want to go around demonstrating at Barclays buildings, shouting your views, that is a different matter. I can tell you 100 percent, not 99.9 percent but 100 percent, that if you have this trial in this court you will be convicted. You will not be allowed to go into the witness box and project your views about why you think Barclays should have their windows smashed."
Dr Bradbrook told the judge she was trying to prevent anarchy, not cause it. If the actions of businesses like Barclays continued they would cause anarchy as a result of environmental devastation, she argued.
"I am here to prevent anarchy by the only means I know," she added.
She went on to tell the judge that another part of her defence would be consent.
"I believe that Barclays Bank would consent to me breaking windows if they understood the rationale," she said.
"No they wouldn't," retorted the judge. "We really haven't got time for this. This is a very busy court. There is no obvious defence."
Dr Bradbrook argued, however, that there were legal precedents for her defence and she believed that if 'ordinary people in the UK selected as a jury' were to hear the facts they could return a 'perverse verdict' in her favour despite the law.
She went on "I do not go around breaking the law, I uphold the law. "
The judge pointed out she could not have a jury trial because the amount of damage done - £400 to £600 - was not enough to justify the case going to the crown court. The trial would be before a district judge at magistrates' court level, he said.
When judge Brown then said he would allocate two hours for her trial she protested that would not be long enough as she wanted the bank manager to be a witness. The judge said he believed the case would only last an hour so he had allowed more than long enough.
Dr Bradbrook complained "This is really poor treatment, actually."
Prosecutor Cathy Thornton said she already had a statement from the bank manager and he made it clear he did not give permission for damage to be done.
Judge Brown said "I can just image his employers' views if he had given such permission!"
Dr Bradbrook said "If I came to your house and broke your window you wouldn't consent to it. But if I then explained that your house was on fire and your child was inside you would say 'Ah, I didn't have that information.'
The judge then warned her that at trial she may be asked about two men who were allegedly seen with her approaching the bank but then 'left you there to face the music on your own.'
"They didn't feel so confident about the law, did they?" he said.
Dr Bradbrook replied "That is not how it was."
Adjourning the case for trial the judge told her "Given that you accept the facts and won't call any witnesses to challenge the facts you must be clear that the court will not want to hear about what Barclays Bank are doing, or not doing. That is not going to be considered relevant.
"The court will allow you to say why you in your own mind feel you had the right to do it but will not allow you to go into any detail about what you say Barclays Bank have been up to."
When Dr Bradbrook started to tell the judge about the bank's alleged investments in fossil fuels he said "I know all about Barclays Bank but in my view that is not a lawful reason to damage their window. Demonstrate outside, yes. "
Dr Bradbrook asked the judge to tell her his name but he refused, saying 'No, you don't need to know my name."
He granted her unconditional bail pending trial at Cheltenham Magistrates Court on 19th November 2021.
**The Extinction Rebellion website shows pictures and video of Dr Bradbrook smashing the Barclays window.
It says "Dr Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion broke the window of Barclays Bank in Stroud at around 6am this morning (March 30). The action was carried out carefully before opening hours in order to reduce any risk of harm. Dr Bradbrook is already awaiting trial for alleged criminal damage at the Department for Transport in October 2019.
"The action is part of XR's Money Rebellion, which draws on a history of civil disobedience using window breaking and seeks to expose the role of banks in the climate and ecological crisis alongside the wider issues in the current political economy.
"Dr Bradbrook said: 'Our leaders are not pushing for rapid action, they are ignoring the science- targets are inadequate and aren't being met. We are on a path towards the collapse of our civilisation -with billions dying in our children's lifetimes, according to some scientists. Those who are failing to lead adequate action on the climate and ecological crisis are committing Crimes Against Humanity.'"
The website goes on "Barclays' investments in fossil fuels and biodiversity loss amount to billions, and it is argued that their actions are helping to drive the climate and ecological emergency. Barclays are the biggest funders of fossil fuels in Europe, financing fracking, coal, and Arctic oil and gas extraction. Between 2016, when the Paris climate agreement was signed, and 2019, they poured more than $118bn into fossil fuels, and in 2019, they were the worst bank for fossil fuels in the Arctic.
"Today's action also puts a spotlight on Barclay's role in funding industrial animal agriculture, which is a leading cause of biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, and air and water pollution. Barclays are one of the main creditors of Cargill, North America's largest beef processor with a footprint of worldwide environmental degradation and animal and labour exploitation. The main cause of Amazon deforestation (accounting for around 80%) is cattle ranching and soy production."
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