Image: Sarah Cresswell
Not Gulity, outside Southwark Crown Court [Sarah Cresswell]
Not Gulity, outside Southwark Crown Court [Sarah Cresswell]
The action, HSBC HQ, Docklands [Gareth Morris]
The action, HSBC HQ, Docklands [Gareth Morris]
Deeds Not Words [Gareth Morris]
Deeds Not Words [Gareth Morris]
Better broken windows than broken promises [Gareth Morris]
Better broken windows than broken promises [Gareth Morris]
[Gareth Morris]
[Gareth Morris]

Release Notes (4)

Comment piece by Gully Bujak in The Guardian

Comment piece by Gully Bujak, one of the acquitted HSBC 9, in The Guardian newspaper


Dazed interview with Clare Farrell, Extinction Rebellion co-founder, and one of the HSBC 9


BBC News report on the HSBC action, 22 April 2021

Coverage of open letter in The Guardian

News story about the open letter in The Guardian newspaper

Hard Art

HA 002

Open letter to all people of conscience in response to the acquittal of the HSBC 9

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Nine women, from graduates to grandmothers, were found not guilty for taking nonviolent direct action with Extinction Rebellion at the headquarters of one of the world’s biggest investors in fossil fuels, HSBC. [Main image: Sarah Cresswell]

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Open letter to all people of conscience in response to the acquittal of the HSBC 9

On Thursday 16 November, nine women, from graduates to grandmothers, were found not guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court. Their charge? Taking nonviolent direct action with Extinction Rebellion at the headquarters of one of the worlds’ biggest investors in fossil fuels, HSBC. These women cracked windows at the global bank’s London headquarters in Canary Wharf, a protest inspired by the courage of those now national heroes, the Suffragettes. They risked their freedom to try and prevent the bank’s own crimes against humanity, £80 billion in fossil fuel investments in the 5 years since the Paris Climate Agreement.

While we applaud the jury for recognising these women’s solid defence for taking such action and following their conscience, a collective act of madness is going unchecked both in the UK and across the globe. Those standing up in defence of life on Earth are being criminalised by the UK legal system, while our own government willingly continues to facilitate the destruction of our only home.

The world stands ablaze in front of us and still global powers choose to risk the death and displacement of billions in pursuit of uncurbed fossil fuel expansion. Global temperatures this September have left scientists the world over shocked to the core. The extraordinary summer heat will make 2023 the hottest year on record, not by a fraction, but by an ‘unprecedented’ margin, with the month of September 1.8C warmer than pre-industrial levels. This huge jump in global temperature shows that the climate crisis will not be steady nor granular, but increasingly erratic and unpredictable year on year.

It is heartbreaking to see the impact of inaction as the crisis unravels everywhere. Record floods have left the Greek breadbasket wrecked for years to come; Winters in South America are disappearing as heat waves cook the oceans and the monsoon season reaches a critical tipping point, which could result in up to 30% less rainfall and have a frightening impact on food production; Canadian wildfires which ravaged the Northern Territories this summer, are calming only now; New York City experienced a state of emergency from flooding during the same week that floods in Libya left an estimated 20,000 dead, parents tragically searching the beaches there for the bodies of their children. People the world over are sharing in a collective grief as nowhere is left untouched.

Yet, the world is in the ultimate crisis of accountability. As the case of these women shows, it is not illegal for banks such as HSBC to profit from destroying life on Earth. With billions invested in fossil fuels in the five years since the Paris Climate Agreement, we can’t help but wonder how many deaths these billions will have caused already? Why do such heinous crimes continue to go unpunished?

Meanwhile, rather than listening to reason or scientific fact, the UK government continues to hand out contracts for oil exploration in the name of false ‘energy security’ while steering the UK towards authoritarianism. In Britain today, it is verging on illegal to urgently and effectively protest for the right of life to survive. Citizens are now regularly arrested for walking down the road holding a sign. Last year nearly 200 climate activists, who are committed to nonviolence, were remanded with custodial time in UK prisons. As you read this, Morgan Trowland and Marcus Dekker are serving the highest sentences seen in this country for nonviolent protest in modern times, despite a letter sent by the United Nations to the UK Government earlier this year, which criticised the ‘severe’ sentences and warned that the new Public Order Act which came into force in July was inconsistent with international human rights law.

Rounding up people of conscience instead of charging the real criminals is the response of a political and legal system in steep decline, unable to cope or envision a way out of this urgent crisis. Juries, appointed to protect us from tyranny, sit trapped between the philosophical and moral implications of the climate crisis, preventable mass death, and the restrictions of the legal system. Defendants are being refused the opportunity to use necessity to act as a legal defence, with judges ruling out mention of climate change at all in recent trials, holding people in contempt when they do. This is a frightening precedent that all who believe in freedom and human rights should condemn. Thankfully, juror after juror is seeing through this madness and finding protestors not guilty after they have waited years for their cases to go to trial.

Women throughout history have always gathered to resist in the name of life and love. Now, as money and power steer us on a path towards total climate and ecological collapse, protests like this are a rational response to the greatest crime humanity has ever faced. These women believed, as we do, that they are duty bound to resist a violent system that is risking the survival of everything we know and love.

The Pope only a few weeks ago, defended protestors portrayed as ‘radicalised’ by saying, “in reality, they are filling a space left empty by society as a whole, which ought to exercise a healthy ‘pressure’, since every family ought to realise that the future of their children is at stake.” Until we, the people of Britain, recognise these women and their counterparts as acting in service to life itself, not as villains in a culture war created by the corrupt political class, any hope of tackling the existential climate and ecological crisis in a way that is fair and just will be fraught. Until we hold to account the real criminals, those political and business leaders who continue to turn the cogs of the fossil fuel economy and divide people for their own ends, humanity will not advance towards a future of genuine hope, prosperity and justice.

It is now incumbent upon all good people of conscience to rise up as these women have, to pull together and find our collective power. We must all take the most effective action we can, find our courage and work in firm opposition to the dereliction of our only home. We support all courageous and loving people who stand and fight for justice and the continuation of life on Earth. We will do everything we can to support them, and to play our part in building a new world where life is sacred.


Dr. Rowan Williams (Former Archbishop of Canterbury) Emma Thompson (Actor and screenwriter) Es Devlin (Artist/stage designer) Ben Okri (Author) Juliet Stevenson (Actor) Mariana Mazzucato (Economist) Helen Pankhurst (Women’s rights activist and great-granddaughter of Suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst) Sir David King (Former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government from 2000-2007 and head of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group) Professor James Hansen (Directing Professor of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of the Earth Institute at Columbia University) Andrea Arnold (Academy award-winning Filmmaker) Brian Eno (Musician/composer/producer) Stephen Fry (Actor/Author) Adam McKay (Academy award-winning Film Director) Thom Yorke (Musician, Radiohead) Ed O’Brien (Musician, Radiohead) Bella Freud (Fashion designer) Alan Moore (Author) Mira Awad (Musician/actor) Kumi Naidoo (Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford University / Former CEO of Greenpeace International and Secretary General of Amnesty International) Ash Sarkar (Journalist) Kate Raworth (Economist) Jeremy Deller (Artist) Chris Packham (Wildlife TV Presenter and Conservationist) Peter Gabriel (Musician) Farhana Yamin (Director, Climate Reframe & Honorary Fellow, Somerville College, Oxford) Caroline Lucas (MP) Baroness Rosie Boycott Clare Patey (Artist/curator) Julie Hesmondhalgh (Actor) Frankie Boyle (Comedian) Rosie Holt (Comedian) Sir Mark Rylance (Actor) Ann Pettifor (Economist) Simon McBurney (Actor and Playwright) Love Ssega (Musician) Ian Rickson (Theatre director) Nish Kumar (Comedian) Gavin Turk (Artist) Jay Griffiths (Author) Monique Roffey (Author) Yanis Varoufakis (Economist and politician) Yancey Strickler (Entrepreneur/Former CEO of Kickstarter) Melinda Janki (International lawyer/winner of Commonwealth Lawyers Association Rule of Law Award 2023) Jeremy Till (Architect) Robert Del Naja (Musician, Massive Attack) Kim Stanley Robinson (Author) Stewart Lee (Writer/clown) Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Screenwriter/Author) Wolfgang Knorr (climate scientist/author) Weyman Bennett (Joint Secretary, Stand Up to Racism) Paul Epworth (Music producer) Rabbi Jeffrey Newman Nika Dubrovsky (Artist) Marcus Lyon (Artist/photographer) Dr. John Fass (Designer) Paul Ewen (Author) Martin Wroe (Writer) Olafur Eliasson (Artist) Josh Appignanesi (Film Director) Matt Black (DJ/Founder of Ninja Tunes Records) John Higgs (Author) Jamie Kelsey Fry (New Internationalist/OneWorldOrNone.World) Michael Pawlyn (Architect and systems thinker) Robert Fripp (Musician/producer) Deborah Curtis (Writer and educator) Aaron Bastani (Journalist) Anthony Barnett (Writer/Co-founder openDemocracy) Bart Cammaerts (Professor of Politics and Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science) Yanai Postelnik (Senior Buddhist Teacher and Lay Minister) Raoul Martinez (Author) Jason Hickel (Anthropologist) Professor Steve Keen (Economist/author) Ed Gillespie (Writer) Rachel Donald (Corruption journalist, Planet Critical) Ian Bruce (Artist/Musician) Mark Borkowsi (Author/PR agent) April de Angelis (Author) Toby Litt (Writer) Sean Burk (Comedian) Darius Caplinskas (Architect) Cathy Runciman (EarthPercent & Atlas of the Future) Ben Graham (Writer) Jonathan Harris (High Priest of the Church of Burn) Joanne Mallon (Author/podcaster/coach) Moksha Poetess (Artist/Producer) Nick Hollins (Podcaster) David Lan (Writer/Producer) Tracey Seaward (Producer) HAM (Artist/illustrator) Melinda Gebbie (Artist) Sarah Cresswell (Photographer) Anwen Fryer Burrows (Festival 23 co-founder and Sheffield Community business owner) Mathew Lawrence (Director of Common Wealth) Richard Norris (Journey to Nutopia) Michelle Olley (Journey to Nutopia) Cori Crider (Journalist) Clara Maguire (Exec Director of The Citizens) Tim Jackson (Economist) Dr. Leon Sealey-Huggins (Academic) Marc Silver (Filmmaker) Natasha Walter (Author) James Schneider (Writer) David Spratt (Research Director of Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration) Professor Graham Smith (Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster) Professor Atul K. Shah (Economist/Lecturer) Dr. James Dyke (Associate Professor in Earth System Science at University of Essex) Claire Mellier (Iswe Foundation) Liz Jensen (Author) Jon Alexander (Author) Inga Hamilton (Sculptor) Jen Brister (Comedian) Liz Slade (Chief Officer, UK Unitarians) Francesca Martinez (Comedian) Nick Anim (Transition Town) Matthew Jones (Designer) Paul Northup (Creative Director of the Greenbelt Arts Festival) Sharon Eckman (Author) Charlie Waterhouse (The Brixton Project) Jessica Townsend (Writer) James Miller (Writer) Lloyd Davis (Social Artist) Roc Sandford (Ocean Rebellion) Phoebe Tickell (Moral Imaginations) Morgan Trowland (Architect/Climate activist currently in prison for peaceful protest) Marcus Dekker (Musician/Climate activist currently in prison for peaceful protest) James Brown (GB Paralympic Gold Medalist) Jo Rendle (Artist/organiser) Tamsen Kidd (Regenerative Farmer) Immo Klink (Artist & Filmmaker)

CategoryClimate Crisis, Protest, Activism
Release Date10 April 2024
RecordHA 002