Climate activists found guilty of criminal damage after trial – with councillor facing calls to resign

Two women who broke windows at a Barclays branch in Norwich as part of a climate protest have been found guilty after a trial in Lynn.

Extinction Rebellion members Jennifer Parkhouse, 71, and Amanda Fox, 52, cracked windows at the St James Court Barclays on April 13, 2021, and faced charges of criminal damage for their action, which they said was taken in response to Barclays’ alleged role in the climate crisis.

The pair had pleaded not guilty to the charges, arguing that their action was justified due to the harm they say is caused by the bank’s investments in fossil fuels.

Jennifer Parkhouse and Amanda Fox at King's Lynn Crown Court. Picture: Extinction Rebellion Norwich
Jennifer Parkhouse and Amanda Fox at King’s Lynn Crown Court. Picture: Extinction Rebellion Norwich

The trial, which was held at Lynn Crown Court, found them both guilty by a 10-1 majority on Tuesday, with sentencing to take place in November.

Ms Fox, who is a Green Party councillor on Norwich City Council, has faced calls to quit since her conviction.

Mike Stonard, Labour councillor and leader of Norwich City Council, has called for her to resign immediately for the “violent criminal act”.

Extinction Rebellion protestors outside King’s Lynn Court
Extinction Rebellion protestors outside King’s Lynn Court

But Ms Fox has defied calls to step down, arguing she has been “overwhelmed with messages of support” and has called for politicians to take more action toward tackling climate change.

“I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support that I have received from my constituents,” she said. “One read ‘give me a councillor who takes a stand any day of the week, in every seat’.”

However, Mr Stonard said: “It is unacceptable for elected representatives to believe that, when they lose an argument or don’t get what they want, they can resort to criminal actions,” he said.

“Either you believe in democracy and the rule of law or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

“This was not a legal non-violent protest. It was a violent criminal act. Any staff in the bank must have been terrified and Cllr Fox should apologise to them.”

Ms Fox used a hammer to break windows during an Extinction Rebellion protest against Barclays’ investments in fossil fuels.

John Fairhead, prosecuting, had described the protest as “theatrical and dramatic”, designed to gain maximum publicity.

But the judge acknowledged “no violence” was directed to any individuals and Ms Fox said they had chosen the branch and time of day because it would be very quiet.

Mr Stonard has argued that the protest has damaged the councillor’s reputation and brought the council into dispute.

“When Cllr Fox stood for election to the city council last May, her leaflets made no mention of this impending case, even though it was known,” added Mr Stonard.

“She even stated in her leaflets that she had been working hard tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. This was utter hypocrisy.

“Councillors are leaders in their communities and are expected to set a positive example.

“She has damaged the reputation of her office and has brought the council into disrepute.

“The Green Party must unreservedly apologise for the hypocrisy, the deception, and the lack of honesty with the electorate.”