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10th May 2024

Just Stop Oil protestors break glass protecting Magna Carta

Ryan Price

They broke the glass protecting the historic document before glueing their hands together.

Two protesters from the environmental activist group Just Stop Oil have broken the glass protecting the Magna Carta at the British library in an attempt to draw attention to their cause.

Footage shows Reverend Dr Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, using a hammer and chisel to break the glass which covers the historical document, before glueing their hands together and holding up a sign that read: “The Government Is Breaking The Law.”

Security is heard asking, ‘Can you stop doing that please?’ before the pair respond: ‘No.’

They then begin chanting, ‘We must stop oil’ before sitting down and rubbing glue on their hands.

It doesn’t appear that the glass protecting the artefact was shattered by the women’s attempts.

The British Library is home to two of the four surviving copies of the document, which was created in 1215 and limited the power of the monarch and established human rights for everyone in England.

The two remaining copies are stored at the Lincoln Cathedral and the Salisbury Cathedral.

Widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy, the Magna Carta was signed into law on 15 June by King John of England in Runnymede, Surrey and established the idea that all people, including the king, have rights and responsibilities under the law.

Agreed back in 1215, the Magna Carta Magna Carta outlined basic rights with the principle that no-one was above the law (Getty Images)

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: “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.’

“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.”

The two elderly protesters were arrested by police at the scene, and a statement from the Metropolitan Police read: “At 10.52 police were called to the British Library to reports of Just Stop Oil activists trying to damage the Magna Carta.

“Officers arrested two people on suspicion of criminal damage, both of which are currently in custody.

“The damage caused was to the protective case and not the exhibit itself.”

It’s not the first time someone has attempted to get their hands on a copy of the Magna Carta.

In 2018, Mark Royden, from Canterbury, Kent, attempted to steal a copy from Salisbury Cathedral, and is said to have smashed the 800-year-old document’s protective case.

He was found guilty of attempted theft and causing criminal damage, costing £14,466 to repair.

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