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EXCLUSIVE: King's College London have sent the climate change protesters to court

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An email shown to The National Student has revealed that four climate change protesters involved in the 2017 demonstration against fossil fuels at King's College London have been charged with criminal damage nearly a year and a half after their protest.

In February 2017, protesters decorated the entrance hall of King's College London's Strand Campus using multi-coloured chalk spots and slogans including 'Out of time! Divest from oil and gas now!' 

The group were demanding that King's divest from fossil fuels as part of the fight against climate change. The protesters used water-soluble temporary chalk spray and brought buckets, soap and cloth to clean off the chalk. However, they were stopped from doing so by security.

The protest was part of a larger campaign for divestment, which involved an occupation, further protests and a hunger strike, led by movement leader and King's PhD student Roger Hallam.

Following the campaign, King's College London announced that it would be divesting from fossil fuels by 2022 and going "carbon free" by 2025, with any returns invested in academic activities, as long as there was no significant impact on financial risk.

The email, which was forwarded to The National Student by one of the protesters, Dave Durant, states that he is facing a single charge of criminal damage relating to the events at KCL in February 2017. the value of damage is under £5,000.

The number of charges faced by the three other protesters is not stated in the email.

Dave, who graduated with a 2:1 in International Politics from King's, currently works with the university as a law conference producer.

Speaking exclusively to TNS, Dave told us that he has "been back to the uni since the protest, including to the careers service. Everything seemed amicable.

"Prosecution tried to ban me [from campus] as part of the bail."

He emailed the university's Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne to request a meeting to discuss the pressing of charges.

Dave also revealed that the protestors "offered to pay the full amount of the cost of the alleged damages and they [King's] rejected that.

"They still have not provided an invoice showing the cost of cleaning, there is still deliberation and the court does not even know."

In his email, he outlined that going after the protestors was "not in the public interest" and that King's was harming the professional development of its graduates.

The university, however, declined the meeting on the basis that it would not be appropriate to comment on a matter that was currently the subject of legal proceedings.

Dave has since attended an initial court hearing on 19th June, where the court was unable to decide the value of the damage he would be charged with. He will subsequently be tried by a jury in the Southwark Crown Court and maintains his innocence.

In a message to The National Student after the hearing, the protester remarked: "King's is crushing its own reputation and losing the respect of its alumni."  

Another protester, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been sentenced to 6-month conditional discharge meaning that they will not be sentenced unless they commit another offence within the six month period.

The unnamed protestor has been ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to King's College London.

More to follow...

Featured image courtesy of Dave Durant and Poppet

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