Insulate Britain activists at High Court for alleged breaches of injunctions

Protesters from Insulate Britain block the road in Parliament Square.
Protesters from Insulate Britain block the road in Parliament Square.

Insulate Britain activists have blocked the M25, other roads in London, roads near Birmingham and Manchester and the Port of Dover in Kent

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A group of climate change activists from Insulate Britain will appear at the High Court and could face jail for allegedly breaching injunctions designed to prevent disruptive protests.

Insulate Britain activists began a wave of protests in September and have blocked the M25, other roads in London including around Parliament, roads near Birmingham and Manchester and the Port of Dover in Kent.

The group says it intends to continue with the protests, which have sparked anger among motorists and others affected by the blockades, until the Government agrees to insulate homes.

The High Court has so far issued five injunctions to prevent protesters from blocking roads.

They include four injunctions granted to National Highways, banning demonstrations on the M25, around the Port of Dover and on major roads around London, and one to Transport for London (TfL).

TfL was granted a civil banning order aimed at preventing protesters from obstructing traffic on some of the capital’s busiest roads.

Those who breach the injunctions could be found in contempt of court and face a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Police officers at the scene where protesters from Insulate Britain are blocking Great Charles Street Queensway in Birmingham.
Police officers at the scene where protesters from Insulate Britain are blocking Great Charles Street Queensway in Birmingham.

The group, which temporarily suspended its protests for 11 days in October but resumed them on October 15, said nine activists will appear at the High Court on Tuesday.

The nine are Dr Ben Buse, 36, Ana Heyatawin, 58, Louis McKechnie, 20, Roman Paluch, 28, Oliver Roc, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, James Thomas, 47, and Ben Taylor, 27.

Mr McKechnie said in a statement ahead of the hearing: “If the Government chooses to imprison us, so be it, this will show their cowardice.

“They would rather lock up pensioners than insulate their homes. They would rather lock up teachers than create thousands of proper jobs.

“I face the prospect of being sentenced to prison on my 21st birthday – this Government would rather lock up young people than take steps to reduce emissions.

Protesters from Insulate Britain blocking Great Charles Queensway in Birmingham.
Protesters from Insulate Britain blocking Great Charles Queensway in Birmingham.

“They will lock us up and leave thousands to die of cold this winter, and millions to face climate chaos in the coming decades.”

Mr Thomas said: “I’m scared about potentially going to prison. But I’m more scared of this Government’s complacency and lies about the climate.

“They are kicking the can down the road. We are running out of road.”

A further 23 supporters, who the group said have “openly defied one or more of the four recent injunctions”, are also expected to be summoned to court.

Theresa Norton, 62, a councillor from Scarborough, said: “I don’t do this lightly. But, like the nine who face court and a potential prison sentence, I have to stand up to Government bullying to overcome the fear they instil through threats and intimidating legal bureaucracy.

“They would rather silence us than protect the public from climate collapse.”

So far, 161 people have been involved in the roadblock campaign and there have been more than 800 arrests.

The group’s tactics include supporters gluing themselves to roads.

The Government plans to introduce new measures to clamp down on protests.

These include allowing the police to stop and search people where there is a reasonable suspicion they are carrying items intended to cause disturbance by “locking-on” using glue or other means.

The hearing at the High Court starts at 10.30am on Tuesday and is expected to last three days.