Tom Wainwright successfully appeals conviction of HS2 protestor for protecting wildlife

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Tom Wainwright, of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Team, represented the appellant. Tom was instructed by Simon Natas and Anna Renou of ITN Solicitors.

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The Administrative Court quashed the conviction of Sebastian Roblyn for taking direct action to prevent a tree being chopped down to make way for the HS2 project. Mr Roblyn climbed the tree in order to prevent wildlife crimes, and, in particular, because removing it may disturb nesting bats and voles. The defence called expert evidence on the matter and the District Judge accepted that if the tree were demolished, offences might have been committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Species and Habitat Regs 2017.

He nonetheless proceeded to find that the cutting it down was a ‘lawful act’ on the basis that the HS2 construction scheme as a whole had previously been found to be legal in other proceedings. Mr Roblyn was duly therefore convicted of an offence under s.241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

The High Court ruled that the District Judge was wrong to find that HS2 contractors could not commit criminal offences in the course of their actions and confirmed that HS2 did not provide any kind of immunity from prosecution. In light of the District Judge’s findings, the prosecution had failed to prove that the HS2 workmen were acting lawfully and upheld Mr Roblyn’s appeal.

Full judgment: Roblyn v DPP [2021] EWHC 3055 (Admin)

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