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Criminal records for Friends of the Earth, Sandbag

Guy Shrubsole: convictYesterday, the green activists who disrupted the Banks Mining facility next to Matt Ridley's home in Northumberland were up in court on charges of aggravated trespass. I have received the following report.

1. Yesterdays court case went ahead as planned at Bedlington Magistrates Court.

2. The nine charged protesters all appeared in court. They brought along a barrister from Manchester.

3. They appeared rather 'sheepish' in court.

4. The barrister argued mitigating circumstances on the basis of that it was a legitimate protest and that the protesters were frustrated by the lack of UK Government action to combat climate change. The judge (a district judge) apparently didn’t think much of this and suggested that it was not appropriate for matters of national politics to be argued by way of illegal obstruction of legitimate coal mining operations in Northumberland.

5. Eight pleaded guilty and received:

  • a criminal conviction for aggravated trespass
  • a fine of approx. £1,000 each made up of £150 court costs, £850 towards Banks losses and some other smaller bits.
  • a 12-month conditional discharge
They were bound by a court order not to go within 50m of a Banks site.

6. One pleaded not guilty. Thought to be the “legal observer” that was with the three protesters down in the mine. He is apparently going to try to argue that he did not disrupt mining activities in any way. He is still on police bail and due to appear in court again for a trial in March 2016.

The names are:

  • Roger Geffen, 49, of Southwark Bridge Road, London.
  • Ellen Gibson, 21, of Elm Grove, London;
  • Philip MacDonald, 28, of Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, London;
  • Beth Louise Parkin, 29, of Dodgson House, Bidborough Street, London;
  • Pekka Piirainen, 23, of Elm Grove, London;
  • Thomas Youngman, 22, of Hermitage Road, London.
  • Laurence Watson, 27, of Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park, London;
  • Guy Shrubsole, 30, of Bavent Road, London; and Lewis McNeill, 34, of no fixed address.

Guy Shrubsole is a full time employee of Friends of the Earth.

Laurence Watson and Philip MacDonald are full-time employees of Bryony Worthington's Sandbag organisation.

Roger Geffen, as noted previously, is an MBE and a full-time employee of a cycling campaign group.


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Reader Comments (107)

So in effect these clowns are nothing more than professional protesters.

Good work if you can find it.


Dec 17, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Local grassroots protestors, I see.

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

All from London, except for the one of no fixed abode. They have no knowledge of the reality of the outside world - like where their food comes from, where their water comes from, where their energy comes from, where their waste goes. Typical useful idiots of the greenblob.

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Where does all the money come from? One is homeless but can go all the way to Northumberland, not a cheap journey. and just how did they get a Manchester Lawyer, they do not come cheap? It is amazing how these idiots can disrupt and damage other people's property with impunity???

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

If only we had RICO in this country.

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:37 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Nice that they can afford a Barrister from Manchester. I cannot even afford a banister from B&Q. I wonder who's charity donation that was paid from?

I was once drawn into a discussion with a barrister who claimed to have given his time for free. I pointed out that he would be overcharging his normal clients to achieve this. He threatened me with legal I asked if he would sue me for free. Never heard any more.

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Prisons should have treadmills, powering a generator, reserved for Environmental protestors with a point to prove.

Whether 12 months on a treadmill would be long enough to prove anything, would be up to them.

Is Baroness Worthington relying on taxpayer funds to employ sociopaths?

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

You can reflect on how easy it is to achieve 'martyrdom' these days , in the old days you needed to burnt alive , spent years in cave of on top of pole,crawl on your hand and knees over hundred miles. Now it can be gained in afternoon with little inconvenience , and the chance for jolly outing with your friends with only a light dusting of sack-cloth and ashes.

And you can wonder , if these 'green hero's ' had to face real hardship , how many of them would still so keen to 'show how much they care'

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

This is the kind of criminal record any activist would be proud to have.

A successful mission to publicise the fact that chief denier honcho Lord Ridley owns a coal mine. The details of that business arrangement are pretty well irrelevant to Joe Public on the Clapham eco-bus.

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

@Derek Buxton: Yes indeed, it's something I have been asking for a very long time. When there's an AGW Jamboree somewhere in some exotic part of the world, with the finest wines, champagnes, the finest haut quizine, you find white middle-class Brits there protesting, telling the meedja why they are there, their concerns about Gaia, etc, & of course, their hatred of capitalism & global business. Yet Auntie Beeb never ask, "Where are you staying? How did you arrive here? How much has this all cost you? What do you do for a living?" Zilch, nada, nothing!

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

@esmiff: Lord Ridley's sole financial interest in Banks Mining is to collect rent from use of a wayleave to access the land.

The coal under the land is owned by Her Majesty's Government, as is the case for all such resources.

I suggest you add a post admitting your claim that Ridley owns the coal mine is wrong or he could sue you for libel.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

So their actions compromised the mine operational safety case as well. Perhaps they need a case brought by H&SE? Or a bill for the costs and associated penalties instead. Just keep ramping the costs and criminal records up.

It was a very dangerous and irresponsible act.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

knr, these sociopaths had to endure fossil fuelled travel from London to Northumberland, and back, TWICE!

Presumably their 'out of pocket' expenses, came out of someone else's pocket.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

NCC 1701E

"I suggest you add a post admitting your claim that Ridley owns the coal mine is wrong or he could sue you for libel."

I'm not bothered. I'm sure Friends of the Earth would be happy to pay my legal fees. LOL !

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

@esmiff; so, you appear to admit that not only do you post incorrect information, but you are not prepared to correct it when told the facts. That is not the way i behave, but perhaps i am a bit old-fashioned.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

NCC 1701E

I am old fashioned enough to have learned to read and write. Read my original message again.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

If you were protesting about something you believed to be a moral issue, then you'd regard a criminal record as a badge of honour.

@esmiff It's hardly a secret that Matt Ridley has financial interests in coal - he mentions it whenever he writes anything about climate change. Surely the protesters must have known it wasn't a secret?

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterturningtide

@esmiff: you wrote 'chief denier honcho Lord Ridley owns a coal mine'. I do not believe this statement to be true.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Who pleaded not guilty then ?

I hope he/she gets an increased fine and the *full* costs for dragging it out - plainly afaics to keep the PR martyrdom pot bubbling.

Perhaps they'd consider a fossil fuel protest in Syria? If they do - they can count on me for a generous donation

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM | Registered Commentertomo

On the subject of where professional protesters get their money from, WWF are currently running an advertising scam on Russia Today (one of the few safe havens during COP21) and probably elsewhere, adopt a polar bear for £3, none of which will help any polar bears.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Can someone who knows clarify this point about who owns minerals under the land? There seems to be one proposition that they belong to the Crown. Fair enough but then how do landowners eg Dukes of Northumberland who own the land above, get so rich off minerals they do not own? And if the Crown does own all minerals, does this apply to offshore too? If so it would be a very amusing kick in nuts for Scotch people who seem to think North Sea oil would be 'theirs' in the event of independence. Lots of clever lawyers could have years of fun and fees arguing the point.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Mikky, when people adopt a polar bear, do they get to take it home, so it can eat them and anything else in the home?

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

You didn't need to publish their addresses though. I'm often quite rude about people, but I find the spleen expressed in some of the comments a bit offputting.

esmiff gets a lot of flack often, not because he's wrong, but because he doesn't share the general tone of other comments. I don't want to belong to a pack. Possibly lots of other readers feel the same way, but they probably won't come here to say so.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:12 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I wonder who is going to pay those (~£10K-ish ) fines?

That is going to be interesting.......

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:16 PM | Registered Commentertomo

bill, I am not a lawyer.

Traditionally, if you owned a house or land, you had a right to everything above or below it.

This meant the Crown/Government got nothing from minerals. It also meant that the owner of a coal mine could not extract coal from beneath other people's property. Laws were 'changed' to provide benefit to the Crown for minerals. Case law had to be developed to take into account aircraft flying overhead, tower cranes swinging in an arc over someone elses land, and even tube tunnels beneath London.

Solar companies have signed homeowners upto some interesting schemes, to give them a right to install panels on peoples roofs.

Something which in theory should be simple, isn't. That is why Lawyers are wealthy.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Without getting tangled in English Law the rules appear to be this:

Under the common law of England and Wales, all mines and minerals which lie beneath the soil of the land owned by the landowner belongs absolutely to the landowner. There are a few exceptions to this rule I.e. coal ( by which S.9 Coal Industry Act 1994 vests in the coal Authority). All the rights in petroleum including mineral oil and natural gas found beneath or on a landowners property are property of the crown under S.2 Petroleum Act 1998. The Crown is also entitled to all gold and silver found in gold and silver mines on or beneath anyone’s property.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

tomo, can fines be claimed as business expenses, given that they were incurred in the course of their 'work'? If not, they will take the money as a charitable donation, from someone who will claim the tax back.

Don't expect any of them to express any gratitude to tax payers.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


that's pretty much what I was getting at. If funds used to pay the court fines emanate as a purposed payment from a charity I feel quite confident that that's not allowed.....

I expect Dale Vince has already memo-ed Ecotricity accounts department - so taxpayers get rinsed by proxy

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:51 PM | Registered Commentertomo


I think that publication of convicts' addresses is normal court procedure. It's part of the state's revenge, but I can't say I feel too sorry for them. The sooner it becomes clear that Green connections do not grant immunity, the better!

BTW, isn't Shrubsole a cyclist, too? Their disregard for traffic rules has probably conditioned him...

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Exactly the sort of idiots we always knew they were.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

The addresses of the guilty will be published as a matter of court record as is normally the case but the fact that they are published here doesn't sit well with me.

These activists or even terrorists if you will, deserve the full attention of the legal system and not any individual acting in a similar manner to themselves, which if it happened would certainly cause me consternation purely by association..

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

This may help:


Following the privatisation of the coal industry in 1994, the ownership of almost all coal now resides with the Coal Authority who grant licences for coal exploration and extraction.

The Coal Authority is a non–departmental public body, which in 1994, assumed responsibility for all the interests in respect of unworked coal and coal mines and for the liabilities associated with past coal mining and unworked coal. The main functions of the Coal Authority are to manage the coal resources under its control, encourage economically viable operations to work these resources, grant licences for coal exploration and extraction, provide effective management of subsidence damage claims, and provide information on past, present and proposed future coal mining activities.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...


"I cannot even afford a banister" :-)

I wonder who pays for him? I can't imagine his fee was conditional upon success.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:17 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"Thought to be the “legal observer” that was with the three protesters down in the mine .. He is apparently going to try to argue that he did not disrupt mining activities in any way."

The getaway driver's defence. Doesn't usually work for them, either, but I'm sure it will amuse the court.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Good down to earth northern justice
Maybe they could work off the fines by digging coal for the company :)

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

After the failure of massive government subsidies and mandates for wind and solar power, it is clear that these energy sources will not provide significant amounts of electricity to consumers. In addition, they despoil the landscape, destroy natural habitats, slaughter birds and bats, and leach cancer-causing chemicals into the environment. They should be abandoned until researchers are able to improve their reliability, safety and efficiency by at least an order of magnitude.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeW

The fine imposed is not the major issue for them, even if they had to pay it themselves. They now have a criminal record which makes certain jobs and international travel destinations difficult. For example, would they be allowed to travel to the USA? What jobs does a criminal record bar you from? Just a thought.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBlack Dog

golf charlie and Mikky - despite being asked to fund saving a polar bear, snow leopard etc, WWF, in their small print - or not so small print - says that "Your support will also help fund our other essential work around the world". I have never bothered to ask them what proportion goes to help their so-called other essential work because they're the last people I would send money to. I also wondered why they need to get involved when there seem to be other organisations doing the work on the ground and wonder if WWF's involvement got in the way of the proper work. Perhaps they are funding the proper work, but I am somewhat sceptical and can't help but think that they do more damage than good, as happens with so many bleeding heart, holier-than-thou organisations. I'll stick with the air ambulance and life boats.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

This was my point.

The only reason I can think of for such idiocy is to make it LOOK LIKE Ridley owned a coal mine. I knew he didn't.

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

MikeW the hymn/anthem Jerusalem includes the line "... amongst those dark satanic mills"

Strangely prophetic words to describe the political landscape of England, as dreamt up by Greens.

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@ jamesp at 1:06 PM & others:

"I think that publication of convicts' addresses is normal court procedure. It's part of the state's revenge, ..."

Publication of convicts' addresses is to more-precicesly identify the specific individual(s), and so help avoid mistaken identity of someone else having the same name.

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Grumpy, polar bears and snow leopards would be so much happier if Environmentalists didn't keep shooting them in the bum with tranquilizers guns, especially as they only do it for the Health and Safety of the Environmentalists.

Anyone would have thought that Environmentalists have realised that we all know they just sit in air conditioned offices, and make up their expertly credentialled scientific evidence.

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Justice4Rinka, not only is it bad form it is unwise.

If he gets a break-in or someone keys his car (or bicycle) who will he blame?

He'll blame this blog.

He'll blame this blog because it would be useful for him to do so. You've given the Greens another weapon.
That is unwise...

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:44 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

@ Justice4Rinka

Well I certainly do think it in bad form.

Dec 17, 2015 at 2:48 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

My employer would let me go if I got myself a criminal record. Does these eco nut employers have similar integrity?

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

@ M Courtney

His address is in the public domain whether he likes it or not - he's on the electoral roll. He can have no complaint. He is listed as living at [Snip - no interest at BH in publishing his address when the court hasn't done so].

Zoopla says that was property was offered at £375k in September 2013, last sold on 29 January 2014 for £356,000, and was offered for rental by Right Now Residential in October 2015.

You can even look at the photos:

So it looks like Mr. Geffen rents it.

Now, with a criminal conviction, I think he's going to find it hard to rent anywhere else. Furthermore, Mr. Geffen himself uses this kind of easily-found publicly-available information to harass people with whom he disagrees religiously. We are above such idiocy and indeed it would be very wrong for anyone to write to Right Now Residential to advise them that their client - the landlord of that property - is letting to someone with a criminal conviction.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

The cycling group Roger Geffen, or rather Roger Geffen MBE, belongs to is the CTC, of which I've been a member for some years. Tempting as it is to resign in disgust at his actions, I will say that the CTC is an incredibly useful resource for cyclists of all stripes (even climate skeptics) and the membership fee is well worth each penny. This, it seems, is achieved in spite of Mr Geffen's extra-curricular criminal activity.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumulo Nimbus

Justice4Rinka, two wrongs do not make a right.

You aren't helping by behaving like a Warmist. Their behaviour does not make the world a better place.

And as stewgreen says, Roger Geffen hasn't been found guilty of anything yet.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:26 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney


"Do these eco nut employers have similar integrity?"

Apparently not. The Grauniad will employ anyone.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Justice4Rinka's comments snipped.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:37 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

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