Protestor pleads guilty over Lloyd’s of London Climate Protests

In the first prosecution over Climate Protests that took place at Lloyds of London on Friday 29th October, Protestor Henry Owen pleaded guilty today at Westminster Magistrates Court to a charge of Criminal Damage after spilling 1,000 litres of fake oil outside Lloyd’s of London’s HQ.  The prosecution is the first relating to a sequence of recent actions protesting Lloyd’s of London’s ongoing insurance of fossil fuel projects. Henry was sentenced to an 18 month conditional discharge and £660 fine for damages.

“No regrets – we need real action not words.”

Outside of Westminster Magistrates Court, Henry Owen said:

“I don’t regret my actions. At this point in history, it is a lack of action that will lead us to regret and destruction. Governments are failing to regulate the finance sector, Lloyd’s of London is failing to regulate its marketplace, and in response syndicates are profiteering from climate breakdown. Now is the time for real action, not words. Lloyd’s of London needs to stop insuring fossil fuel projects today. That would be real action.”

The prosecution comes two days after an agreement made at COP26 on Saturday night. The COP26 agreement reaffirmed a commitment to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C, but current nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are inadequate to limit temperature rises to 1.5C, and according to analysis published during the talks would lead to a disastrous 2.4°C of heating.

Lloyds “could choose to be Climate Leaders”

Henry Owen said:

“With world leaders at COP26 admitting much more progress is needed to tackle climate change, Lloyd’s of London have the opportunity to be climate leaders by ruling out insuring fossil fuel projects immediately. Unfortunately, despite their claim to be about ‘sharing risk’, by continuing to support insuring fossil fuel infrastructure in their marketplace they are actually risking the lives of millions of people already facing the impacts of climate breakdown. History will judge their support for deadly and polluting industry harshly.”

Insurance Rebellion, who claimed responsibility for the ‘oil spill’, are calling for Lloyd’s to stop insuring all fossil fuel projects. During the action, banners were used to highlight Lloyd’s of London’s refusal to rule out insuring new oil extraction at the UK’s North Sea Cambo oil field and their ongoing insurance of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada. Lloyd’s have faced recent international pressure not to insure the Trans Mountain pipeline, with some syndicates ruling out involvement.

Insurance Rebellion have coordinated a number of ‘direct actions’ at the Lloyd’s HQ including dumping tonnes of fake coal outside the HQ over the insurance of the Adani Carmichael mine, and throwing green paint across the building to “highlight the shameless greenwashing”. Neither of these previous actions had led to any charges being brought, making Henry Owen the first person to be prosecuted for climate protests at Lloyd’s of London.

Insurance Rebellion: Protestor turned down deal to be an ‘informer’

While being held by police at the Bishopsgate police station, Insurance Rebellion claimed that Henry Owen was offered a deal if they would become a police informer and provide details on other people involved in protests at Lloyd’s of London. Henry turned down their offer.

Henry Owen said:

“They thought they could scare me into becoming an informant, but climate breakdown is much more intimidating. People at all the previous Lloyd’s actions were willing to face criminal charges for their actions. In my lifetime, tens of thousands of people across the UK have stood up for what they believe in and faced police violence, undercover policing and even time in jail. The climate movement hasn’t gone away and has played a massive part in building public support for climate action. Every time action is taken at Lloyd’s, more people realise what a key target they are if we want a liveable planet. If Lloyd’s don’t take drastic action I’d expect to see more and more people protesting against their activities’.


Image: Henry Owen releasing oil from 1,000 litre container