Glasgow court acquits YCL activist charged during COP26 climate protest

Nathan Hennebry was one of over 50 people arrested during the course of the COP26 protests in Glasgow

August 07, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
5-08 YCL case - UK
Nathan Hennebry outside the Glasgow Sheriff Court. (Photo: via YCL)

On Thursday, August 3, the Glasgow Sheriff Court acquitted activist Nathan Hennebry of the Young Communist League (YCL) in a case filed against him during the 2021 COP26 climate protests in Glasgow. YCL-Britain in a statement on Thursday applauded the verdict and said that Hennebry was the only person to face trial from the COP26 arrests, adding that it was clear that the Scotland police was attempting to target YCL and the Communist Party.  

While the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021, or COP 26, was being held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow from October 31 to November 13, 2021, more than 100,000 activists from climate action groups and leftist youth groups had gathered in the city, organizing marches and other events demanding concrete proposals from the summit to mitigate the impact of climate change. The YCL contingent of the main march on November 6 in Glasgow under the banner ‘Socialism or Extinction’ was heavily cordoned off by the police. Nathan Hennebry, the Glasgow YCL secretary, was one of several arrested during the course of those protests. Hennebry was accused of holding a flare at the march in a manner that could have caused injury to police officers at the protest. 

According to a Morning Star report, the case against Hennebry collapsed when two police witnesses at the trial produced different accounts of the incident.

Read: At COP26, the only person arrested and charged was a Communist.

Johnnie Hunter from the leadership of the YCL told Peoples Dispatch on August 5, “The not guilty verdict is a vindication of what we have always known. These were trumped up charges and a shameless case of political policing. Nathan was targeted for being a YCL and Communist Party member, who dared to exercise his hard won democratic right of protest to oppose capitalism killing our planet. This reflects a broader attack on civil liberties across Britain today—a dangerous trend that we have to oppose.”

“Nathan was exonerated, but we shouldn’t be under any illusions that we can rely on ruling class courts to protect our rights. Only a class conscious, mass labor and progressive movement can do that,” he added. 

Following the verdict in the case, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) demanded “an end to the attacks on communists, trade unionists, and environmentalists, the repeal of Tory laws expanding police powers, and attacking the right to protest, and real action to save the planet and humanity from climate change.”