Edinburgh crime: Extinction Rebellion lecturer climbed onto roof of Scottish Parliament in climate protest

The Extinction Rebellion member carried out the stunt to highlight climate change

A former university lecturer sparked a security scare when he climbed onto the roof of the Scottish Parliament in a bid to highlight global climate change. Justin Kenrick, 63, scaled the perimeter of the £414 million building and made his way across the grassy rooftop before unfurling a large banner which read Climate Assembly, Be Bold.

Kenrick - a member of eco-group Extinction Rebellion - refused to come down from his precarious position and carried on his one-man demonstration for around two hours. Parliament security staff were alerted to the intruder on the building roof and immediately called in the police at around 7.30am on March 4 last year.

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Police, the fire service and an ambulance crew raced to the scene to find Kenrick sitting cross-legged around 20 feet above the front entrance to the building at Holyrood in Edinburgh. The academic eventually agreed to halt his protest as the weather conditions worsened and when a large bamboo stick attached to his sign broke off and crashed to the ground.

Justin Kenrick scaled the perimeter of the Scottish Parliament and made his way across the grassy rooftop.

Kenrick appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday (October 21), where he stood trial accused of culpably and recklessly climbing onto the parliament’s roof while weather conditions were wet and windy. Kenrick, a senior policy advisor with the Forest Peoples Programme, denied the charge and represented himself during the trial claiming his actions were “rational and proportionate”.

Witness Kevin Anderson told the court he was on duty as part of the security team at the Parliament when an Intruder Detection System alerted him to a man walking a cross the rooftop. Mr Anderson, 44, said he watched Kenrick on CCTV as he walked over the rooftop onto a toughened glass fin above the main entrance to the building before sitting down. The security officer then called in the emergency services to attend.

The CCTV footage was played to the court and showed Kenrick unfurling the large blue banner before police officers were forced to put a cordon in place in case of an accident. Kenrick, of the capital’s Portobello area, admitted being on the roof but told the trial he did not believe he was a danger to anyone and that he had “a right to protest”.

He said his demonstration was aimed at the Scotland’s Climate Assembly which was sitting at the time and was deliberating how the country should tackle the ongoing climate crisis. Following the evidence Sheriff Daniel Kelly found Kenrick guilty of culpable and reckless behaviour and deferred sentence for three months for the academic to be of good behaviour.

Justin Kenrick, 63, pictured outside court.

Kenrick was found guilty of culpably and recklessly climbing on to the roof of the Scottish Parliament, sit on the edge of the roof, fasten a banner to a ledge of the building while weather conditions were wet and windy and to have lost control of the banner causing parts of it to fall to the ground all to the danger of police officers and emergency service workers who were attempting to protect him from harm and to the danger of himself on March 4 last year.

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Kenrick is an anthropologist and activist who is currently senior policy advisor at the Forest Peoples Programme which works to support African forest communities to determine their own futures. He is also a University of Edinburgh Research Fellow in social anthropology, has previously lectured in anthropology at Glasgow University and is a member of the Green Party.