You are currently viewing 7 Sisters Acquitted –  Seven sisters acquitted after all charges dismissed

7 Sisters Acquitted – Seven sisters acquitted after all charges dismissed

Today, all seven women accused of Aggravated Trespass and section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act had the charges against them dismissed. In an unexpected turn of events, District Judge Dodds halted what was set to be a three day trial at Milton Keynes Magistrate Court, as a result of the prosecution’s failure to comply with their disclosure obligations.

The prosecution arose from an incident which occurred on 3rd June 2020, when two local residents became aware of the sound of heavy machinery in the HS2 compound at Poor’s Piece, Buckinghamshire and realised that a 200 year-old great oak was at imminent risk of felling. They were concerned that the tree was home to wildlife, including protected bat species and they sat under the tree in order to protect it whilst attempts were made to ascertain whether there was a proper bat licence in place to permit the work, which would have taken place at the height of bat roosting season. They were not shown the licence and so remained under the tree where they were later joined by five other woman. All seven remained under the tree until they were arrested.

The defendants were set to argue that they had acted lawfully and out of a legitimate concern to ensure that wildlife protection legislation was respected.

“I am both delighted and relieved with the outcome of our case, however the real question still remains in my mind unresolved as to what HS2 would of done that day had we not held them to account with protest and how many more trees, rare species and their habitat have been and will be desecrated in what continues to be the largest ecocide project the UK government has done to date. At what point will the real criminals in this country be prosecuted? And at what point will the UK public see through the political green wash being given to them by our Transport Department?” Sam Smithson, 39

Imogen, one of the women protecting the tree, said, “How incredible it was to see more coming to sit with us, and sit we did, and we sang. We sang as the police read us our rights, we sang as the police protected the ecologists as they climbed into the tree, we sang as our friends protected us; we sang as 30 officers took us away – 30 police officers for 7 singing women protecting an oak tree – we sang in the cells for 12 hours; through the night; and we sing when we were released. All united in one heartfelt gesture of activism and protection.”

HS2 did not fell the oak that day, nor shortly after HS2 did sadly cut down the tree at the end of September 2020.

The incident took place close to Poor’s Piece, Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, a village deeply affected by the HS2 development. Poor’s Piece Conservation Project is a community of conscientious Earth Protectors, who shield the woodland from the threat of the HS2 development.

Poor’s Piece is an ancient woodland, which has provided fire wood for the poorer members of the community for generations. It is the “poor’s piece” of woodland. As a symbol of community and sustainability, it has become emblematic of what campaigners against HS2 are fighting against.

The woodland continues to be under threat by HS2 and it’s species of wildlife, including red kites, yellow hammers, badgers, protected bat species and insects.

Imogen added, “Since our arrest, so much has been taken – so many trees, so much biodiversity loss, so many arrests (but so few prosecutions!), so many evictions, so many court cases, but still HS2 continues. In the face of climate crisis, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our children, our communities and the planet. Those wrongly placed in positions of leadership are flaunting their power and highlighting their greed through consistent acts of destruction. We need to protect our delicate ecology and work with nature to heal the damage that has been done. The 7 sisters oak is a symbol for what we fight for. We continue to fight.

Leave a Reply