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Watch Just Stop Oil protestors in their 80s target the Magna Carta with a hammer and chisel

Just Stop Oil supporters Judy Bruce, 85, and Reverend Sue Parfitt, 82, attempt to smash the protective enclosure.
Just Stop Oil supporters Judy Bruce, 85, and Reverend Sue Parfitt, 82, attempt to smash the protective enclosure. Copyright Just Stop Oil
Copyright Just Stop Oil
By Rosie Frost
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The protestors were heard asking “Is the government above the law?”


Two Just Stop Oil protesters in their 80s have broken the glass around the Magna Carta at the British Library in London.

Reverend Dr Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, an 85-year-old retired biology teacher, entered the British Library and used a hammer and chisel to crack the enclosure around the Magna Carta - the ‘Great Charter’ that is an essential foundation for the contemporary powers of the UK Parliament.

The pair glued their hands together holding a sign that read “The government is breaking the law” and could be heard saying “Is the government above the law?”

They are demanding that the UK government commit to an emergency plan to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

“This week 400 respected scientists - contributors to IPCC reports, are saying we are ‘woefully unprepared’ for what’s coming: 2.5 or more degrees of heating above pre-industrial levels,” Bruce said, referring to a Guardian survey of climate scientists.

“Instead of acting, our dysfunctional government is like the three monkeys: ‘see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing- pretend we’ve got 25 years’... We haven’t! We must get off our addiction to oil and gas by 2030 – starting now.”

The British Library said police had been notified and despite “minimal” damage to the case, the Magna Carta itself remains undamaged.

Why did Just Stop Oil target the Magna Carta?

The protest comes a week after the High Court ruled that the UK government’s climate plan is unlawful. It said there wasn’t enough evidence that there are sufficient policies in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Parfitt said that the Magna Carta is rightly revered as being “important to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws”.

“But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened.

“We must get things in proportion. The abundance of life on earth, the climate stability that allows civilisation to continue is what must be revered and protected above all else, even above our most precious artefacts.”

Both Bruce and Parfitt has been involved in numerous climate protests and have been arrested in the past.

The Magna Carta was the first document to put into writing that the King and his government were not above the law. It was issued in 1215 and London’s British Library holds two of the four surviving copies.

“Clause 39 of the Magna Carta is one of four clauses still enshrined in UK common law, a so-called ‘golden passage’, that states: ‘No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or in any other way ruined, except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land,” a spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said.

“Contrast that with civil law as it stands in 2024, where corporations are buying private laws in the form of injunctions that circumvent the people’s rights to a trial by jury for speaking out against the crimes of oil companies.”

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