Climate activists attack case holding the original Magna Carta in London

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Two environmental activists targeted the original Magna Carta in the United Kingdom during a protest seeking to raise awareness of climate change.

Rev. Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, a retired biology teacher, were both arrested after they attacked a glass case containing the historical document at the British Library in London on Friday, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

A video of the incident showed the pair of protesters from Just Stop Oil, an environmental group based in Britain, using a hammer and a chisel to hit the case, causing minor damage. The Magna Carta was unscathed.

“The Magna Carta is rightly revered, being of great importance to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws,” the duo said in a statement after their protest. “But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened.”


Two women hitting the case

Climate activists Reverend Dr Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, broke parts of the reinforced case holding an original text of the Magna Carta in the British Library in London, Britain on May 10, 2024. (Just Stop Oil/via REUTERS  )

The duo and their group are seeking to end the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“This famous document is about the rule of law and standing up against the abuse of power,” Bruce can be heard saying during their demonstration. “Our government is breaking its own laws against climate change.”

The two protesters

Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, were arrested following their protest in London, Britain on May 10, 2024. (Just Stop Oil/via REUTERS  )

In the video, Parfitt added: “As a Christian, I am compelled to do all that I can to alleviate the appalling suffering that’s coming down the line and is here already. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs. So we must just stop oil.”


The library’s security team intervened and disrupted the demonstration, preventing further damage to the case.

The library said the Treasures Gallery would be closed until further notice.

Magna Carta in a case

The British Library said the Treasures Gallery would be closed until further notice. (Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A photo of the Magna Carta

The ‘Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy’ exhibition opened at the British Library in London, England on March 12, 2015.  (Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Magna Carta is a 13th century English treaty which established that nobody was above the law. It is considered one of the founding documents of Western democracy.


There are only four original texts of the document: Two of them are kept in the British Library, one is in Salisbury Cathedral and the other is held in Lincoln Castle.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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