Just Stop Oil protesters guilty of aggravated trespass for disrupting Wimbledon

Three Just Stop Oil protesters have been found guilty of aggravated trespass after disrupting Wimbledon tennis matches by throwing confetti and puzzle pieces.

Deborah Wilde, 69, Simon Milner-Edwards, 67 and William Ward, 66, accepted that they climbed over a barrier and threw tinsel and jigsaw puzzle pieces over the court during The Championships, the world’s oldest tennis tournament, City of London Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday.

The three grandparents had each denied that the protest on Court 18 in July last year amounted to aggravated trespass.

Just Stop Oil protests
William Ward on Court 18 throwing confetti on the grass (Adam Davy/PA)

Speaking outside the court after the verdict, Milner-Edwards said: “I felt good (during the protest), most of the time I feel guilty for not doing enough to try and stop the killing that’s going on around the world by the destruction of the climate.

“At that point I was doing as much as I could possibly do, so I felt good, I felt peaceful and calm and resolved.”

Ward added: “I’ve got no regrets, the message got out there to millions and millions of people.”

Deputy District Judge Steven Jonas said: “Firstly I want to thank all of the defendants for the way they’ve conducted themselves this evening, all of you will have been very stressed.

He said it was “not in dispute” that each defendant “sprinkled some confetti or tinsel and some jigsaw pieces on to that playing field” and said that he “found it a fact” that they were trespassing.

He accepted that the three protesters waited for a break in play, but added: “Nevertheless I find as a fact that each of them intended to cause disruption to the tennis and as a result they did cause some disruption on that day.”

Wilde and Ward were each given a six-month conditional discharge, and Milner-Edwards received an 18-month conditional discharge.

The court had heard earlier on Monday that Wilde and Milner-Edwards entered Court 18 at about 2.10pm on July 5 2023, during a match between Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro.

Bodycam footage played to the court showed them wearing Just Stop Oil t-shirts.

Wilde and Milner-Edwards were arrested at 2.16pm and, about two hours later, Ward, also captured on bodycam footage wearing a Just Stop Oil T-shirt, went on to the same court.

By that time, British player Katie Boulter had started competing against Australia’s Daria Saville.

Katie Boulter helps ground staff clear confetti from court 18
Katie Boulter helps ground staff clear confetti from court 18 (Adam Davy/PA)

Wimbledon staff cleared the jigsaw pieces and confetti by hand and using leaf blowers, and Boulter helped, the court heard.

The three defendants, all of whom were self-represented, were told they could not use the threat of climate change as a defence.

Seconds after standing up to examine Milner-Edwards, Wilde complained that she felt restricted on what she could ask and said: “I feel very emotional so I’m ging to sit down”.

Giving evidence, she said: “We’d just had the floods in Pakistan.

“(I kept thinking about) the little children being swept away in the flood, and this is the reality, and it’s going to get worse and worse and worse and worse.”

That year All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs Wimbledon, spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” to manage potential protests after Just Stop Oil demonstrated at the World Snooker Championships and Ashes Test at Lord’s Cricket Ground, said Michelle Dite, operations director at AELTC.

Court 18 is a show court, where many top seeds play in front of “a few hundred” people and there is extensive video coverage, she added.