Just Stop Oil Women Charged After Attacking British Library’s Magna Carta 

Just Stop Oil Women Charged After Attacking British Library's Magna Carta 

The British Library in London was the centre of an incident on Friday when two elderly women attempted to breach the protective glass encasing the historic Magna Carta. Reverend Sue Parfitt, 82, from Bristol, and Judith Bruce, 85, from Swansea, purportedly used a hammer and chisel in their attempt, according to the Metropolitan Police. Library authorities swiftly intervened, minimising the damage to the case.

Parfitt and Bruce, affiliated with the environmental activism group Just Stop Oil, now face charges of criminal damage. They have been bailed and are expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 20th. The source of their bail and legal fees remains unclear, prompting inquiries to the organisation.

Just Stop Oil outlined its demands in a statement, calling on the UK government to commit to ending oil, gas, and coal extraction and burning by 2030. Parfitt emphasised the symbolic significance of the Magna Carta while highlighting the urgency of addressing climate change: “But there will be no freedom, lawfulness, or rights if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe now threatened.”

This is not the first time Just Stop Oil activists have targeted iconic artworks. In 2022, they disrupted exhibits at London’s National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, underscoring the group’s commitment to raising awareness through direct action. This also adds another setback to the troubled British Library, which is still reeling from a cyberattack last Autumn that caused damage which has not been fully repaired.

The Magna Carta, dating back to 1215, is historically significant as a foundational document establishing human rights for English citizens. The British Library safeguards two surviving copies, alongside those housed at Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, two members of France’s Riposte Alimentaire group made headlines on May 8th for a protest at the Louvre in Paris. The duo placed stickers next to Eugène Delacroix’s iconic painting “Liberty Leading the People,” advocating for civil resistance against societal inequalities. The group staged a similar demonstration at the Palace of Versailles just days earlier, underscoring the growing global momentum behind environmental and social justice activism.

What is the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta, Latin for “Great Charter,” is one of history’s most significant legal documents. It is revered for establishing that everyone, including the king, is subject to the law. It was initially issued in 1215 during the reign of King John of England in response to a rebellion by his barons.

The Magna Carta resulted from negotiations between the king and his barons, who were unhappy with his arbitrary exercise of power and oppressive taxation. The document addressed grievances and limited the king’s authority by establishing certain legal rights and procedures. It contained provisions relating to taxation, feudal rights, and the administration of justice.

Although King John initially agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta, he later sought a papal annulment, leading to a civil war known as the First Barons’ War. Despite this, the Magna Carta endured as a symbol of the limitations of royal power and the rights of individuals.

Over time, the Magna Carta became enshrined in English law and served as a cornerstone for developing constitutional principles and the rule of law. It influenced subsequent legal documents, including the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the United States Constitution (1787), which borrowed from its concepts of limited government and individual liberties.

Today, only four original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta survive, housed at the British Library, Lincoln Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, and the Magna Carta Memorial at Runnymede. Despite its age, the Magna Carta remains a symbol of justice, liberty, and the rule of law, revered worldwide for its enduring legacy.

Read More



, ,