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Christian activists 'went too far' stopping busy train, court hears

by Heather Preston

An Anglican priest and two Christian climate activists "went too far" after intersecting a commuter train, a court has heard.

Christian Climate Action (CCA) protestors - Rev Sue Parfitt, 79, Fr Martin Newell, 54, and Philip Kingston, 85, are on trial for obstructing a London rush hour train in October 2019.  
Rev Parfitt and Fr Newell climbed on top of the locomotive while Kingston glued himself to the side of carriage as part of climate demonstrations at Shadwell station.

The trio refused to move until police officers intervened, at which point a specialist team was needed to unstick Kingston from the train.

The incident disrupted commuters for 77 minutes and lead to the cancelation or delay of 15 Docklands Light Railway (DLR) trains.

The CCA members were arrested and charged with obstructing an engine or carriage on the railway - charges they deny.

Prosecutor Edmund Blackman told the jury: "The prosecution's case against these defendants is that they went too far in their protest.
"Of course, living in a democratic society, people have that right. It is a precious right but that right has to be balanced against the right of other people.
"This case is about where you draw that line. The prosecution case is that they went too far."
Blackman added that the protesters "deliberately acted unlawfully" at a busy time of time of day.

The jury heard that a passenger pleaded "we have got to go to work, the kids are on the train and we have got to go to school".

Fr Newell responded saying "sorry" and added: "But this is what we have to resort to" as he refused calls from members of the public to come down.

Speaking before the demonstration Fr Martin said: "We are acting to raise the alarm in a spirit of repentance for our complicity in sins against God's earth and God's poor. Parliament has declared a climate emergency but environmental issues were virtually absent from the Queens speech. We need action not words."

The day before the disruption the British Transport Police (BTP) had been warned by a CCA representative that a protest was likely.
BTP superintendent Richard Twyford said any such protests could lead to safety risks, such as congestion and crush hazards, and could force people to be evacuated.

The trial continues.

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