Panel One: Testimony from the Frontline – How rights to protest are being eroded and why this is happening now?

Moderator – Helen Pankhurst 

Prof Helen Pankhurst CBE is an international women’s rights advisor to CARE International – working primarily in Ethiopia, where Helen was born, and in the UK. She is also a Professor at MMU and the First Chancellor of the University of Suffolk. Helen holds honorary doctorates from Edge Hill University and from the University of Manchester.

The granddaughter of Sylvia, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Helen carries on the legacy. She was a Suffragette in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics and was involved in the 2015 film Suffragette. Helen convenes the Centenary Action (a coalition campaigning for a gender equal parliament by 2028 – the Centenary of Equal Franchise), and GM4Women2028 (a charity looking at data and the lives of women and girls in Greater Manchester).

Publications include: Deeds Not Words, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now (2018).

Raj Chada:

Raj is a leading Expert in Protest Law , having conducted many of the most high profile cases over the last few years, include Ziegler, Heathrow 9, Stansted15 , Colston 4 , HSBC 9 , Shell 7 and Heathrow Pause. Raj is leading efforts to use right to free speech , justification defences and ensuring that juries are the ultimate decision makers of guilt and innocence in criminal cases. Advising Trudi Warner in relation to her contempt case.

Indigo Rumbelow:

Indigo Rumbelow is in civil resistance against the murderous government and the fossil fuel industry. She is co-founder of Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil.

Huda Ammori:

Huda Ammori is the co-founder of the direct action group Palestine Action. Huda has a wealth of campaigning, research and writing experience targeting British complicity with Israeli crimes in Palestine.

Paul Powlesland:

Paul is a barrister at Garden Court Chambers and a climate and nature rights activist. He is a member of Lawyers Are Responsible and has been a consistent voice for the bar to cease its facilitation of the fossil fuel industry. He is Co-director of Lawyers for Nature, which campaigns for the Rights of Nature and seeks to transform the relationship between the law and nature.

Holly Cullen-Davies:

Holly is a mother, a musician, a campaigner, a facilitator, a Quaker and the partner of activist Marcus Decker who was recently released from a 2 year 7 month prison sentence after climbing the Dartford Crossing in October 2022. They currently have a deportation order hanging over them. Holly has spent the last year raising awareness of Marcus’s case through giving speeches, throwing concerts, performing songs, taking interviews and telling their story on stage and she has garnered the support of Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rusbridger, Chris Packham, Olivia Coleman, Bob Geldoff, Emma Thompson and Jacob Collier amongst others. She founded the series Concerts Don’t Cost The Earth in 2021 and has since then performed over 25 shows across the UK.

Stephen Gingell: 

Stephen Gingell is a successful (accidental) capitalist, adoptive father of 3 boys, his “biggest challenge and greatest joy” Stephen spent a few years with XR where he avoided arrest, followed by a couple of years with Just Stop Oil with multiple arrests and short stretches in prison. He was the first person in the UK to be found guilty under section 7 of the new Public Order Act, and received a grossly disproportionate custodial sentence of 6 months.