Environmental campaigners dressed in ‘scene of crime’ suits lay outside the entrance of Slaughter and May this morning, in protest against the magic circle firm’s fossil fuel company clients.
The group Lawyers for Extinction Rebellion blocked the entrance to the firm’s Moorgate office with tape saying ‘climate emergency act now’ and strung up ‘children crossing’ signs. Three campaigners in white jumpsuits and carrying ‘Stop Ecocide’ signs also lay down in front of the firm’s reception.
The group accused Slaughter and May of ‘slaughtering our planet’ after advising Premier Oil on its North Sea expansion.
Addressing campaigners and passers-by, Paul Powlesland, a barrister at Ely Place Chambers, said Slaughter and May is charging ‘a lot of money – hundreds of thousands, millions of pounds – to actively assist oil companies to acquire new fields and to exploit them…. It’s effectively taking blood money to fuel the climate crisis.
‘These fancy offices and pay packets that are 10, 20 maybe 50 times the average annual wage of people in this country, are paid for with that blood money.’
Powlesland added that ‘there are dozens of firms within a couple of miles’ that are also advising fossil fuel companies. More City firms are expected to be targeted by campaigners later this year.
The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that lawyers should be able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and that lawyers are not identified with their clients as a result of discharging their functions.
Slaughter and May declined to comment on the protest.