The 83 Year Old Rebel
Phil Kingston is a founder member of Grandparents for a Safe Earth and of Christian Climate Action.
He is a parishioner of Holy Family church in the Diocese of Clifton.
More recent action from Phil:
A contempt of court action at Westminster Magistrates court on 29th April 2021 - By Phil Kingston
On 3rd October 2019, I and three companions took part in a protest at the UK Treasury. Our reason for doing that was that a section of The Treasury which made loans to poor countries was using some of these for infrastructure which promoted fossil fuels, thus adding to climate breakdown.
We spray-painted a part of The Treasury wall with a washable plant-based red dye which could easily be removed.
We were charged with criminal damage and the plea hearing was heard at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, 29th April. My co-defendents are Buddhists and I am joyful that this is an inter-faith action.
Because of the dire urgency of the developing climate catastrophe, we decided that we would interrupt those Court proceedings and thus be in Contempt of Court and accept whatever consequences that might carry. Our principal interruption was to make personal statements. This is my statement:
‘‘I am here today to work for the security and well-being of my grandchildren as they face the unfolding catastrophe of climate breakdown. It is not me who should be on trial but the UK Government for its complete failure to safeguard my grandchildren and their generation across the world. Where is this government’s moral base when it consistently places the economy before the probability of a life of suffering for them?
I regard this court as complicit in this government crime.
I am a Christian so I care about you judge and all persons who are administering these court proceedings. I care for your children and grandchildren as I care for my own. I hope that one day you will realise what you are doing and resign from this judicial system. It is only in a social, political and economic system of mutual care and cooperation that a semblance of a truly human life will develop. I will stand for that as long as I have life.’’
Because I have a back injury, I was given permission to attend via internet video. The Court arranged to hear me first. None of my co-defendents were present at the time. When the judge asked my name, I began to speak my statement and had almost come to the end of it when the video link was cut.
One co-defendant, Dr. Diana Warner, told me that the rest of the proceedings were largely interrupted by her and the others. She and they made their own statements/ We had agreed beforehand that if I was excluded they would also read mine. I am moved that they did that because It involved them in saying ‘‘I am a Christian’’. This expressed our mutual respect for one-another’s faith. For some reason, Dr. Warner was the only defendant present when the judge brought the proceedings to an end. To her surprise, he asked her if she had anything else she would like to say, so she spoke about the unfolding catastrophe of climate breakdown and what it is predicted to mean for all of our children and grandchildren. She said that the atmosphere in the court had changed to one where the judge and all others listened attentively.
The judge made no reference to our contempt of court so we each ended the day as free people. I have no idea why he took that decision.