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Case update 27 March 2024

We’re not appealing, but it feels like we’ve already won

Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis, Campaigners

After nearly a month in prison for telling the truth in court, we’ve decided, following legal advice, not to continue our appeal, says campaigner, Giovanna Lewis, in this guest blog. But the fight doesn’t stop here.
by Giovanna Lewis

In 2023 three of us were sent to prison for – quite literally – speaking the truth in court. First David Nixon, then Amy Pritchard and me. Judge Silas Reid had already declared we couldn’t use necessity, abuse of power or sections 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act to defend the charge of public nuisance. Then he ruled we couldn’t even tell a jury why we sat in a road!  Reid wanted to deny our opportunity to explain the reasons behind our peaceful and non-violent actions, which were to bring attention to the scandal of thousands of UK citizens dying each and every year in the UK because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes and that thousands all over the world die each and every day because of the climate crisis.

Before my trial, I’d seen that David had been sent to prison for not adhering to Reid’s ruling and telling the truth in court. I kept asking myself “Do you really want to go to prison?” But every time I kept coming back to the same answer: “I just can’t let this happen – I couldn’t let someone in a British court of law deny me my right to speak fully in defence of myself. It was just wrong.” 

“Prison was grim. I found it very difficult but I’m more concerned about the bigger picture globally, the creation of conditions where unimaginable numbers of people will be forced from their homes, the chaos and conflict that we feel already, increasing hugely. What will these high winds I walk in today be like in 20 years time? Will we apply the brakes?”– Amy Pritchard

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After we were released, lawyers told Amy and I that we might have a good case for an appeal, something which was never initially on our radar. To me the idea of an appeal felt good – a further opportunity to challenge what was plain wrong, and, who knows, something that might even prevent injustices like this happening to others in the future.

But now, almost a year on, things have changed. Our lawyers are advising us not to proceed with the appeal. Other Insulate Britain trials are going ahead without the “silencing order” Reid imposed. And he is no longer conducting these trials. We’re facing a retrial in 2025, but it looks like this time the judges will allow us to speak our truth and explain to jurors why we did what we did, and we are arguing that we be allowed to rely on our fundamental right to protest. 

Our appeal highlighted the injustice of being silenced so that it could be examined and put right for the future. We hope and expect that other defendants can speak their truth and fully defend themselves.

Thank you to everyone who stood by Amy and me, donating to the appeal fund and standing up for justice and a legal system that’s fair.  Any funds that were unused will go towards Good Law Project’s other work to protect protest rights.