Eco-barrister to face contempt of court proceedings for leaking Supreme Court Heathrow judgment

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Tim Crosland is being hauled back before top justices for his calculated act of protest

Eco-barrister Tim Crosland will face contempt of court proceedings for leaking a Supreme Court judgment in protest at the result.

The Solicitor General, Michael Ellis, announced today that he will be hauling Crosland back before the Supremes to answer for the leak. If found to have committed contempt, the environmental campaigner could in theory face up to two years in prison.

Crosland, the director of environmental group Plan B, sent an embargoed copy of the judgment to the press after learning that the court had overturned a Court of Appeal decision blocking Heathrow’s plans for a third runway.

Fellow lawyers queued up to criticise his decision, and Crosland himself wrote that he fully expected to be disbarred as well as be done for contempt.

But he insisted that the leak was necessary to call attention to the Supreme Court’s failings in the case, calling its decision “a treasonous betrayal of this country’s young people”.

Ellis said:

“After careful consideration, I have concluded that in order that the Rule of Law be upheld, contempt of court proceedings should be brought against Tim Crosland. Irrespective of any personal views on any issue there is no excuse for knowingly undermining court processes and proceedings.”

The case will now go back to the Supreme Court for a decision on whether contempt has been committed, and if so what punishment Crosland should face.

Crosland told Legal Cheek: “It’s been an interesting few days. Last week Professor James Hansen recommended me to the Prime Minister for his team for COP26. And now the government is applying to the court for my imprisonment.”

He continued: “The government is doing three things. It’s claiming to be a ‘climate leader’ ahead of COP26. It’s supervising the opening of a new coal-mine, continuing to spend billions of tax-payer money on fossil-fuel developments overseas and progressing carbon-intensive projects such as investment in the roads, the expansion of Heathrow Airport and HS2; meanwhile it’s suggesting that those who call out this treasonous hypocrisy and stand up for the future of our young people, our country and vulnerable communities everywhere, should be treated as organised criminals.”

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Crosland added:

“It’s the government’s primary responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens from threats too complex for us to address as individuals. When instead it prioritises the vested interests of financiers and the carbon economy, the social contract is broken and it’s our moral and legal duty to rebel. If fighting for my children’s lives makes me a criminal, then so be it.”

Contempt of court has been in the news a lot recently. Earlier this month, the>BBC was fined £28,000 after putting a short clip of a High Court hearing on TV.

And last year the government launched an investigation after the Sun published a story revealing the bombshell result in the Shamima Begum citizenship case, before the judgment was officially published. On that occasion, all that happened was a request to please not do it again.

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