Sister of BBC’s chief environment correspondent pleads not guilty to taking part in Extinction Rebellion protest because she had to ‘protect life’
- EXCLUSIVE: Cordelia Rowlatt appeared before magistrates last week
- She pleaded not guilty over alleged role in April demo, forcing a trial next year
- Came in the same week as her brother covered the latest round of protests
- She appeared on the same day that Extinction Rebellion picketed the BBC
Cordelia Rowlatt, the sister of BBC’s chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt, has appeared in court over Extinction Rebellion protests
The sister of the BBC’s chief environment correspondent has appeared in court charged over an Extinction Rebellion protest.
Cordelia Rowlatt, of Frome, Somerset, appeared at City of London Magistrates’ Court over the demonstration in London in April.
She is charged with failing to comply with a senior police officer’s instruction under the Public Order Act by occupying Waterloo Bridge earlier this year.
Ms Rowlatt, a farm owner, insisted she had not broken the law and her actions were necessary to ‘protect life’.
Her plea means there will be a costly trial next year, adding to the growing public expense of dealing with the protests.
Her court appearance came in the same week as her high-profile brother reported on the latest round of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
It also came on the same day as Extinction Rebellion shut down the BBC, claiming the corporation were not giving enough air time to the issue.
Ms Rowlatt has been charged over a Extinction Rebellion climate change protest held in April
BBC reporter Justin Rowlatt interviewed his environmentalist Cordelia in 2006, during his ‘Ethical Man’ project in which he examined efforts to curb global warming
Ms Rowlatt allegedly joined Extinction Rebellion protesters on Waterloo Bridge in April
In court on Friday, Ms Rowlatt, 52, told a district judge: ‘There was no body worn evidence to prove I did anything wrong’.
But District Judge Sandhu noted a lawyer had said the officer’s evidence was sufficient to warrant a trial.
She also said that if Ms Rowlatt agreed a police officer informed her of the condition, then the fact there is no video footage is not evidence.
Ms Rowlatt responded: ‘You can remove that from my form, then.’
The farmer then cited ‘necessity’ as a reason of refusing to comply with the order.
She said: ‘I am hugely concerned about biodiversity loss, as everyone should be. Extinction Rebellion are actively trying to prevent loss of life.’
Her trial will be held on 6 January.
Ms Rowlett runs a smallholding with her partner Chris Smaje, where they grow fruit and vegetables for sale and manage their own woodlands and campsite. She was supported in court by Mr Smaje and her teenage daughter.
Ms Rowlatt’s court appearance came in the same week as her brother reported on the latest climate demos. He retweeted a photo of himself there to his 12,000 followers
Her court hearing also came on the same day as protesters shut down the BBC
Justin Rowlatt, 53, is a former correspondent for Newsnight and Panorama as well as Channel 4 News.
He also spent a year in 2006 as the BBC’s Ethical Man after being challenged to spend a year with his family trying to reduce their environmental impact. He interviewed his environmentalist sister as part of the series.
Last year, Mr Rowlatt was criticised for taking part in protests against US President Donald Trump in London and posing next to a sign saying ‘Go Home’.
He took part in the Women’s March part of the rally, but Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said mockingly at the time: ‘This is obviously just another example of BBC impartiality.’
The BBC later said Mr Rowlatt was ‘pictured at this rally in a private capacity’, adding: ‘He was not involved in news coverage of President Trump’s visit to the UK.’
Among his previous major stories have been exposing Olympics corruption, uncovering cartels run by car makers and reporting from the Amazon jungle.
Last year Mr Rowlatt was criticised by a Conservative MP for taking part in protests against US President Donald Trump in London and posing next to a sign saying ‘Go Home’