Scientist Rebellion Co-Founders Not Guilty of the Group's First Action at The Royal Society

Tuesday, 21st of February 2023 - London, UK - On Friday, 17th of February 2023, the Southwark Crown Court in London, UK, found Scientist Rebellion co-founders Mike Lynch-White and Dr. Tim Hewlett not guilty of criminal damage for their non-violent September 2020 protest action at the Royal Society in London.

The action – which saw paint daubed over the entrance to the Royal Society – inspired over two thousand scientists worldwide to join Scientist Rebellion. The action underlined Scientist Rebellion's guiding principle: scientists’ warnings about the climate crisis will not be taken seriously unless they are willing to act disruptively.

"If you tell someone the house is on fire and then carry on as normal it's unreasonable to expect people to take you seriously"Mike Lynch-White

Both scientists employed the legal defence of “consent”. This translates to if the Royal Society had realised the potential of scientists to drive political change through activism, they would have agreed the damage to their building was justified in pursuit of this goal.

In a second case heard by the same jury at Southwark Crown Court, Dr. Hewlett was found guilty of criminal damage for participating in an April 2022 protest at the Shell headquarters in London. The action formed part of an international rebellion with over one thousand participating scientists. Mid-way through the trial, Shell increased its cost estimate of paint damage from an initial £5,000 to £70,000. The jury was only aware that the cost was over £5,000, not the actual figure. The only evidence presented was a £1,300 cleaning bill. The sentencing for this case is awaiting further evidence of the claimed cost.

In both cases, human rights legislation, including the "right to life" and "necessity" were ruled out by the judge. Out of 45 pieces of evidence against Shell, only two pieces of evidence were accepted. An expert witness was denied the opportunity to talk about Shell's human rights abuses and failure to meet legally binding targets of the Paris climate accord. Three eyewitnesses were further denied without justification.

"Arguments in the UK courts have been severely constrained in order to make guilty verdicts more likely. Winning against the Royal Society vindicates the arguments of Scientist Rebellion: scientists can and must drive real change through civil resistance."Dr. Tim Hewlett

Mike Lynch-White has been remanded in prison since the 10th of February, and is still in custody while further trials are ongoing in March.


Scientist Rebellion is a growing climate activist group with 1000+ scientists and academics across 32 countries. Members range from science students and professors to IPCC contributors and leading climate-related scientists. Through disruptive nonviolent action, Scientist Rebellion demands emergency decarbonization via economic degrowth. During acts of civil resistance, members wear lab coats, and volunteers organize the vast majority of the campaign activity. The Climate Emergency Fund supports Scientist Rebellion's recruitment, training, capacity-building, and educational efforts.

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