The Swedish climate activist was arrested amid a crackdown by the UK government on ‘disruptive’ protests.
Greta Thunberg has been cleared of a public order offence at a protest outside an oil and gas conference last year after a judge said she had no case to answer.
Judge John Law dismissed the public order charge against her and four others, ruling that the condition placed on the protest was “unlawful” because police could have imposed lesser restrictions and because the conditions were not clear.
The action in October was part of Oily Money Out – a series of disruptions against the carbon emissions, political influence and lobbying of the fossil fuel companies and banks attending the Energy Intelligence Forum by the group Fossil Free London.
The annual meeting of energy companies hosted executives of the biggest fossil fuel firms as well as politicians.
The Swedish climate activist was detained while demonstrating with hundreds of other protesters outside the Energy Intelligence Forum, at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel in Mayfair. They attempted to block the entrance of the hotel before they were escorted away by police.
Five activists including Thunberg were accused of failing to comply with a condition imposed under section 14 of the Public Order Act after not moving to a designated area when told to by police.
The two activists from Greenpeace, two from Fossil Free London and Thunberg all pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing in November last year. Today all five were cleared of a public order offence at a court in London.
“The prosecution evidence is insufficient for any reasonable court to properly convict and I exercise my discretion to acquit all five defendants,” Judge Law said.
“Even though we are the ones standing here … climate, environmental and human rights activists all over the world are being prosecuted, sometimes convicted, and given legal penalties for acting in line with science,” Thunberg told reporters outside the court before the first day of the trial on Thursday.
“We must remember who the real enemy is. What are we defending? Who are our laws meant to protect?”
UK ‘crackdown’ on climate protests
The arrests came amid a UK government crackdown on “disruptive” protests which saw the UN Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders criticise the country’s “regressive new laws”.
Then-Home Secretary Suella Braverman made controversial changes to public order and policing legislation that expanded police powers to deal with the kind of protests favoured by climate activists.
Greta Thunberg has been arrested several times over the last year during climate protests across Europe.
In October she was fined by a Swedish court for disobeying police at a demonstration at an oil terminal in Malmo. It was the second time she had been fined in Sweden for a similar offence.
The Swedish climate activist admitted to the facts but denied guilt adding that the fight against the fossil fuel industry was a form of self-defence due to the existential and global threat of the climate crisis.
After the verdict, she said she would continue to protest even if it “leads to more sentences”.