Protesters from Extinction Rebellion have been cleared of trespassing at a printing press last year when the group prevented the distribution of half a million newspapers.
Demonstrators blocked the entrance of News-UK owned Newsprinters in Knowsley, Merseyside, with a blue box van and a yellow boat on a trailer last September.
Newspapers affected included the Daily Mail, The Times, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph.
The protests last year prevented the distribution of half a million newspapers, including the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times and The Daily Telegraph
Extinction Rebellion protesters on top of the blockade last September and their sign
Katie Anne Ritchie-Moulin, 22, Harrison Radcliffe, 21, and 22-year-old Luca Vitale were charged with aggravated trespass after they camped overnight on the blue van in Knowsley.
The trio admitted they were among the protesters but denied aggravated trespassing.
But they were found not guilty at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court as evidence was unable to prove where the boundary between the public and private land was.
Earlier Alan Griffiths, a manager at the printing press, was ‘unable to say with certainty’ in court.
Richard Bridgen, defending Ms Ritchie-Moulin, speaking about Mr Griffith’s evidence, said: ‘Had he decided to join himself with the protest that day he wouldn’t have known if he was trespassing or not and he is a man who is intimately connected with the premises.’
Katie Anne Ritchie-Moulin, 22, said outside court the workers at the plant were free to come and go
Harrison Radcliffe, 21, said outside court their next step was to ‘keep the pressure up’ on the media
Luca Vitale, 22, said it ‘felt like justice’ as he walked out of Liverpool Magistrates’ Court today
Mr Bridgen added that there was no signage which pointed out it was private land.
Maps from Knowsley Council and HM Land Registry had been entered as evidence.
District Judge Paul Healey, who said: ‘I have come to the conclusion I cannot be sure beyond all reasonable doubt the defendants were trespassing.’
Priti Patel yesterday hit out at three Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded newspaper printing presses after they were cleared of wrongdoing.
The Home Secretary called the protest ‘disruptive and dangerous’ and said it was an unacceptable attack on the free Press.
Outside court the three protesters said they were ‘relieved’ after having been acquitted.
Mr Vitale, of Winston Gardens, Leeds, said: ‘We came out the action feeling like what we had been charged with was far less severe than the current impact of the media being controlled by billionaires creating greater division within our country.
‘It feels like such a relief to have justice for what we did.’
‘We sincerely apologise for inconveniencing them but in reality it is helping them.
‘This wasn’t an action against them.’
A polic van is parked nearby as Extinction Rebellion block the road in Knowsley, Liverpool to prevent papers going to print
The protesters were sat on top of a yellow boat as well as a blue van for the demonstration last year
Ms Ritchie-Moulin, whose mother Fiona Ritchie, 55, has a health and social care consultancy with experience of managing multi-million pound budgets, emphasized people were able to leave the site, and said the employee car park wasn’t blocked and the protesters were allowing people past.
But Mr Radcliffe, of no fixed abode, added: ‘The next step is continuing this and trying to keep pressure on the press.
‘This was an action based on caring for as many people as possible.’
It comes after six Extinction Rebellion protesters were cleared of causing £25,000 worth of criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters.
Two of the group’s co-founders Simon Bramwell, 49, and Ian Bray, 53, were acquitted alongside Jane Augsburger, 55, Senan Clifford, 60, David Lambert, 62, and James ‘Sid’ Saunders, 41, after a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Six Extinction Rebellion protesters have been cleared of causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters despite the judge directing jurors they had no defence in law. Pictured (left to right): Ian Bray, James ‘Sid’ Saunders, Simon Bramwell, Jane Augsburger, David Lambert and Senan Clifford
The six, who represented themselves, were also cleared of individual counts of having an article with intent to destroy or damage property
The six, who represented themselves, were also cleared of individual counts of having an article with intent to destroy or damage property, while a seventh protester, Katerina Hasapopoulous, 43, earlier pleaded guilty to criminal damage.
The protest, in which activists poured fake oil, glued themselves to windows and doors, broke glass, climbed on to a roof and sprayed graffiti, was part of wider Extinction Rebellion demonstrations across the capital.
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