Suffolk Green Party councillor cleared after taking part in climate protests
A Suffolk Green Party district councillor has spoken of his relief after being cleared of a public order offence following his part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London last year.
Mid Suffolk district councillor Terence Carter was charged with failing to comply with conditions laid down in Section 14 of the Public Order Act following the climate change group's protests in Oxford Circus on April 20, 2019.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday, October 4, and was acquitted following a trial at City of London Magistrates' Court yesterday.
Mr Carter, who lives in Stowmarket and is also a Stowmarket town councillor, said: "I am relieved that I don't have a criminal record but at the same time, it would have been a small price to pay for standing up for what I believe in and doing what I can to make a difference."
Speaking in court, Mr Carter, who is a wheelchair user, said he felt the police deserved "admiration and respect" but stressed he felt it was vital to take part in the climate change protests as "there is so much more that needs to be done".
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He said: "A climate change emergency was declared last year on May 1 yet despite this, to date, the UK government has reacted by investing further into fossil fuels and is set to push through with expanding air and road networks."
Mr Carter said that on the day of his arrest, his wrist was bound between the frame and wheel of his chair which made movement impossible.
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Mr Carter said: "I was given the choice of 'standing aside and just walking away', and repeatedly asked if I was 'aware' of a situation when all I could think about was that if anyone could seriously claim to be aware of dangers we are all immediately facing then they would be doing exactly the same thing that I am.
"Instead, I was arrested before even being released from my binds and without the prospect of moving safely aside without injury."
Mr Carter was found not guilty of the offence on the grounds that he was not released from his bind until after his arrest.
Mid Suffolk Green Party councillors showed their support for Mr Carter throughout the process and councillor John Matthissen said: "Sometimes non-violent direct actions speak louder than words."