Students’ Union Activities Officer will stand trial in April for Extinction Rebellion roadblock

Eight activists were arrested back in November

Eight Extinction Rebellion activists have appeared in court this morning, charged with willfull obstruction of the highway after a protest near Paramount Wetherspoons on Oxford Street on 24th November 2018.

One of those facing trial is University of Manchester Students' Union Activities & Development Officier Lizzie Haughton.

All eight defendants pleaded not guilty at a Manchester Magistrates Court hearing this morning.

They will face trial over three days beginning on 30th April.

The Manchester 8 had their court hearing today at Manchester Magistrates. All pled not guilty, all proudly returning in the spring for their trials!

Posted by Extinction Rebellion North on Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Guardian reported that defence solicitor Carol Mellor said whilst the defendants accept they blocked a public highway, they believed their actions were in line with their rights under the Human Rights Act.

Following this morning's hearing, Students' Union Executive Officer and Extinction Rebellion activist Lizzie Haughton told The Manchester Tab they had pleaded not guilty using articles 10 and 11 of the Act, which grant rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association respectively.

District Judge Sam Goozée told the activists they were unlikely to face prison. The activists only spoke to confirm their identities.

Lizzie Haughton said: "Following this we've all pleaded not guilty out of an act of conscience.

"Yes, we were blocking the road, but we acted because it is vital to bring to attention the devastating impact of climate breakdown that is happening right now.

"Previous methods of protest haven't worked, so we are prepared to face trial in full acceptance that we are not guilty due to the utter urgency of the climate crisis."

All were later released

Posted by Claire Stocks on Saturday, November 24, 2018

At the time of the arrests in November, Lizzie told The Manchester Tab that 10 protesters sat down within the pedestrian crossing outside The Paramount Wetherspoons displaying a banner which read: "We're all fucked".

They refused to move when asked by police, who made the first arrest after around half-an-hour. The remaining activists were then arrested one-by-one.

A video posted to Facebook shows the arrests taking place. Lizzy added that all the arrests were peaceful, with each protester standing up and co-operating with police once arrested.

The protest was the second Extinction Rebellion roadblock to hit Manchester in November, with another having taken place two weeks earlier outside the Students' Union building.

Image credit: Claire Stocks