Climate protesters at Ashes Test ‘had champagne corks and fruit thrown at them’

Champagne corks and fruit were thrown by cricket fans at climate protesters who allegedly trespassed on the pitch at Lord’s on the first day of the second Test at the 2023 Ashes series, a court has been told.

Judit Murray, 69; Daniel Knorr, 21; and Jacob Bourne, 27; each deny a charge of aggravated trespass after running onto the field, disrupting the match between England and Australia on June 28.

Ground staff, security and even England player Jonny Bairstow stopped the men, at least one of whom was wearing a Just Stop Oil campaign group T-shirt, as they approached the wicket while Murray was tackled before she could make it there, City of London Magistrates Court heard, while orange powder was also thrown on the grass.

Nick Rowe, the security operations manager at Lord’s, said the protesters got “very close” to the wicket and play had to stop for a short period immediately after the incident.

He said he was near the Allen Stand at the ground in St John’s Wood, north-west London, when “an unexpected roar from the crowd, much louder than you would expect from a first over” alerted him that something was wrong.

He told the court: “I heard a roar from the crowd. Obviously there were people on the pitch. There was a big cloud of orange powder in the air.”

Mr Rowe said he could see that play had stopped and the stewarding team ran towards the group of people who had been detained.

He told the court one of the men was detained on the ground before being taken away, while another was carried off the grass by Bairstow.

Mr Rowe added: “When I had taken the gentleman from the pitch, my main concern really was for his safety.

“The crowd were really anti – there was a couple of champagne corks thrown at him and a bit of fruit.”

Jonny Bairstow
One of the protesters was tackled by England player Jonny Bairstow (PA)

The court heard there is a 3ft high, metallic fence in front of the grandstand at Lord’s, followed by a gap and 3ft high LED hoardings which loop around the ground and then a boundary rope which all serve as “markers”, along with many signs and loudspeaker messages, which warn ticketholders they are not allowed to go on to the field of play.

Mr Rowe stated that “everything that is green is considered as the playing area” as he described where the boundary on the grass of the cricket pitch could change.

“To me it would be common sense that if you step over a metal fence and on to the grass – that would be considered the playing area,” he said.

Pitch supervisor Fawad Mujahid said he saw a woman and two men run on to the ground, them being tackled, and orange powder on the field as “multiple” colleagues rushed to the scene.

He told the court that one man was “held back by Jonny Bairstow” and that the cricketer “literally carried that person” in the direction of the grandstand.

Mr Mujahid said he saw a second person who was on the ground and the female protester was detained elsewhere on the grass.

Nick Collins, the head of security at Lord’s, said the match was “probably the biggest game of our season” and if the ground had been damaged it would have forced the match to be abandoned.

In a security briefing held before the match, staff were warned the Ashes could be a target for protesters, particularly as there had been a run of demonstrations at recent high-profile events, the court was told.

Mr Collins, who said that play stopped for five minutes, added: “It impacts the rest of the day. The biggest worry for me is whether the ground has been damaged.

“Cricket has wide specifications and a set of rules about the pitch being played on. If the pitch had been damaged in some way, we could not have played.

“We had to check. We had blowers come on. Everyone was trying to blow the powder away and check the ground was not affected.”

He added: “The crowd became very agitated and angry. We had a big amount of booing. We are not football. We do not usually get a big amount of obscenity thrown around.”

Murray, of Plough Road, West Ewell, Surrey; Knorr, of Green Street, Oxford; and Bourne, of Moorland Road, Hyde Park, Leeds; each deny aggravated trespass.