14th June 2024: Jury refuse to convict HXR medics who broke JPMorgan windows

Posted by: Hils - Posted on:

After 10 days of powerful statements at Snaresbrook Crown Court, the jury refused to convict the six medics who carefully cracked windows at JPMorgan Bank, during the July 2022 lethal heatwave.

The verdict was announced despite the judge removing all legal defences on the last working day before the trial began. In arriving at their decision, members of the jury exercised their right to reach a verdict according to their conscience (known as jury equity), although mention of this fundamental right in open court is currently not allowed. To read more about jury equity and the ‘Defend Our Juries’ campaign please follow this link.

At 8am on 14th July 2022, 2 GPs, a consultant psychiatrist, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, a dementia specialist nurse, a child and adolescent mental health specialist and former mental health nurse carefully cracked a number of panes of glass at JP Morgan’s offices in Canary Wharf and put up posters which read “IN CASE OF MEDICAL CLIMATE EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS”.. Their action took place at JPMorgan’s offices at Canary Wharf where the six were subsequently arrested. As the world’s biggest funder of fossil fuels, JPMorgan are a major driver of the climate emergency, threatening the future of humanity. In their moving and powerful testimonies the defendants argued that their action was critical in order to prevent catastrophic and irreversible harm to public health. Two days after the medics’ action, the UK recorded its hottest ever day in recorded history, reaching 40.3°C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

“I pray that the cracking of a single pane of glass in this mighty tower of glass will allow light to get into the corridors of power… My code of conduct is primarily to save life” Dr David McKelvey

“It’s a matter of conscience for me. Knowing what I know, it would be wrong not to do as much as I can. I took an oath to pretect life and I have a duty to act and treat this as the emergency that it is” Dr Juliette Brown

“How do you talk to parents and children? These aren’t easy questions. It’s not easy to have a conversation with a child, when they ask, ‘will I die before I get old?’ … what is happening now is a form of child abuse and betrayal that we have yet to develop the language for.” Ali Rowe

This court case took place as record-breaking, unbearable heat was causing deaths and widespread harm in India and Mexico, and in the same week that UN Secretary-General António Guterres made a hard-hitting speech, urging every country to ban advertising from fossil-fuel companies. Extreme heat causes 40,000 deaths each year globally, higher risks of disease and worsening of existing illness, particularly in children, the elderly and vulnerable. In the 2022 UK heatwave, when the JPM action took place, 3000 patients died prematurely. Climate scientists, including our own Met Office, are absolutely clear that the changing climate will lead to more frequent and more severe heatwaves. This will lead to increasing numbers of deaths and terrible suffering, in UK and across the world.

I have seen many many people die, I have been alongside them, but they are dying at a time which is their time, when you factor in a warming world with heat, people are dying when it isn’t their time… so as a nurse that was why I was at JPM, it was a medical intervention to prevent death and suffering.” Maggie Fay

“The UK government is making the crisis worse and doing so knowingly. The people whose job it is to protect us are failing their greatest duty.… …As a doctor it is my duty to act when the health of patients is at risk. We’ve never seen so much danger to their health as now. As I approached the glass tower, six thousand panes of glass already shining in the hot July morning, I knew in my heart that what I was doing was the right thing. It was the best thing I could be doing to help my patients.” Dr Patrick Hart

The jury’s failure to reach a verdict, despite the judge directing them that the medics had no legal defences, suggests that they were moved by seeing good people, health workers, risking their liberty and livelihoods to protect the public. This casts further doubt on the GMC’s position that doctors who take direct action to protect the public from climate breakdown undermine public trust in the profession. It was on this basis that the GMC suspended Dr Sarah Benn from practice in April, after she held a sign saying ‘Stop New Oil’, in breach of an injunction obtained by Valero, the US-based fossil fuels company.

“I believe in my heart that my actions on that sweltering July day were right and just. This is all I need. The rest is up to you. And so it is in this same spirit of humanity that I put my trust in you, the jury. To be freely judged by my peers, by my fellow human beings, is a great privilege. Thank you.” Dr Patrick Hart

“We’re grateful to the jury for bringing moral sense and humanity into the courtroom. Their deliberations can’t have been easy given the directions of the judge. The outcome doesn’t bring back the countless lives already lost to JP Morgan’s fossil fuel addiction, in this country and around the world. But it gives an indication of the public support for medical practitioners willing to put their bodies on the line. The climate crisis is a health crisis.” Dr Alice Clack

The prosecution have requested a retrial which has been set for February 2026. When asked how this was in the public interest, there was silence, and no answer.

Read the full press release here: bit.ly/4cmhH5m