XR protester, 85, tells court he glued himself to London DLR train 'for grandchildren'

Kingston also said his Catholic faith influenced his decision to take part in the demonstration. Credit: PA

An 85-year-old environmentalist from South Gloucestershire on trial for gluing himself to a train has said he carried out the stunt for the futures of his four grandchildren.

Former university lecturer Philip Kingston super-glued his hand to the Docklands Light Railway train at Shadwell Station in east London in October 2019, while Anglican priest Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, and Father Martin Newell, 54, are said to have climbed on top.

The trio, who are members of Christian Climate Action within Extinction Rebellion, are charged with obstructing an engine or carriage on the railway.

Kingston told Inner London Crown Court on Thursday (January 13) that his grandchildren are “the greatest concern” in his life and that his Catholic faith also influenced his decision to take part in the demonstration.

“I have four grandchildren and they are the greatest concern in my life because my understanding of the temperature that the earth is heading towards is going to be mighty difficult for them and their generation,” he said.

“I have a very strong belief that this man Jesus shows me the way of life, which is giving all our use for others… I appreciate this principle that the order of my life is, as far as I can, to put others first.

“The poorest people in the world who have done the least to cause these high temperatures are the ones who are suffering the most from extremes of weather.

“They don’t have the resources that we have (in the UK) to in some way cope reasonably with what is happening to us.”

Kingston, from south Wales and now living in Patchway, south Gloucestershire, told the court he worked as a lecturer at Bristol University for 27 years, and he had been employed as a probation officer before that.

He said he hoped to appeal to the public and the Government about “climate breakdown” through the protest, adding some passengers did “engage” with his views on the day.

“I hope to achieve the attention of fellow citizens and also of the Government, who I believe are responding quite inadequately to the huge dangers we are facing in regard to the climate and I wanted to draw attention to that,” he said.

Priest Martin Newell and Reverend Sue Parfitt are also facing the charges. Credit: PA

Kingston said the “safety of passengers was the primary consideration” of the group’s planning ahead of the stunt, and he was as certain “as humanly possible” that no-one would be put at risk.

When asked whether, if the safety of passengers had been in question, he would still have proceeded with the stunt, he said: “No, not at all.”

He added that initially passengers reacted angrily, but after he spoke with those nearby, “the anger subsided and they were beginning to engage”.

Prosecuting, Edmund Blackman said that reaching a guilty verdict may be something jurors do “with a heavy heart” but argued the protesters “went too far in what they did”.

He told the jury: “The target was the Dockland Light Railway. It wasn’t, for instance, the headquarters of Shell or Barclays bank.

“They targeted a public transport system used by ordinary people and which runs on electricity.

“Using public transport is an environmentally friendly thing to do. You might think that targeting the DLR was rather incongruous with the point of their protest.”

Defence lawyer Owen Greenall countered that since Shadwell station is one stop away from Bank the protesters were “targeting the infrastructure that supports the financial institutions of the city”.

He argued the protest was carried out “in a safe manner” with the defendants taking measures such as targeting an open-top station so that no trains would be stuck in tunnels, and having several more people from Extinction Rebellion on the platform to ensure violence did not break out.

Mr Greenall added disruption to passengers was “relatively short-lived” with trains running again by 8am.

He summarised: “The issue about which they were protesting was and is so important and urgent that the degree of their disruption to users of the railway was justified.”

The court heard the DLR train which was travelling from Lewisham to Bank shortly before 7am was about 70% full of passengers.

The protest caused 77 minutes of disruption, 15 trains were delayed or cancelled but none were stuck in tunnels.

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The jury was sent out for deliberations on Thursday.