Just Stop Oil protestor from Essex who disrupted rugby final cleared of criminal damage

A Just Stop Oil protester is escorted off the pitch during the Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham Stadium
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Two Just Stop Oil supporters who invaded the pitch at Twickenham during a rugby final last year and threw powder paint have been cleared of criminal damage. Samuel Johnson, 41, and Patrick Hart, 38, were acquitted by a jury on Tuesday after throwing orange cornstarch powder during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby final in May 2023.

Mr Johnson, a construction worker from Essex, and Dr Hart, from Bristol, were on trial at Kingston Crown Court. Just Stop Oil said prosecutors struggled to prove that they intended to cause criminal damage because they would not have realised how difficult it would be to clean the paint from the specialist pitch.

Similar powder paint was used during the Ashes at Lords and was easily cleaned up with a leaf blower. The hybrid pitch at Twickenham is a combination of natural and plastic grass and much more difficult to clean, the campaign group said.

READ MORE: Man guilty of running prostitution ring and phone sex line in Chelmsford takeaway restaurant

ALSO READ: Colchester Tory candidate James Cracknell says the Conservative party is a 'shower of poo'

Mr Johnson, a construction worker from Essex, said: "A year ago, Patrick and I ran onto Twickenham during the Premiership final, throwing orange powder in the air. Today, we have been found not guilty of criminal damage.

"I took part in this action because our politicians continue to issue licences, knowing full well it will result in the deaths of millions of people. Thousands have died due to extreme heat brought on by climate change while we were on trial. This is happening now."

Dr Hart, a GP from Bristol, said: "I told the jury that I am taking the most effective action I can, on the best available evidence, to protect the health of my patients. To put it simply: I am doing my duty as a doctor."

The pair also each face a charge of aggravated trespass which has been sent back to Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court to be dealt with at a later date, a member of court staff said. The Crown Prosecution Service was approached for comment by the PA News Agency.

Get more news from EssexLive straight to your inbox for FREE