An Insulate Britain activist told the High Court he would “block the motorway at the earliest opportunity” if he was not jailed for violating an order banning the group from demonstrating on the M25.
Ben Taylor, 27, was one of nine members of the climate activist group to appear before the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday, accused of violating the National Highways injunction by blocking a roundabout on London Orbital Highway.
Dr Ben Buse, 36, Ana Heyatawin, 58, Louis McKechnie, 20, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 28, Oliver Roc, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, James Thomas, 47 , and Taylor facing a potential two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
All except Buse defended themselves in court and were invited to respond to the arguments put forward by the plaintiff’s lawyers. In a statement echoed by all accused, Roc of London told Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Judge Chamberlain: “I am proud of our actions and support what we have done.”
He continued, “We obviously didn’t do this for personal gain. We have taken responsibility for our actions, and I have taken them to alleviate the suffering of people in this country who cannot insulate or adequately heat their homes. “
Taylor told the court that if the judges didn’t send him to jail he would “get out and block the highway at the earliest opportunity,” adding: “And I will continue to do so until the government makes a statement. meaningful and take action. that, ”he said, eliciting a rebuke from Sharp for his language.
“If you send me to jail, 10 people will take my place,” Taylor said. “If you send us each away, 100 people will come forward and take our place. If you fire 100 of us, 1,000 people will come forward to take our place.
“If you somehow manage to stop all non-violent protests, then things will only get violent. “
Since their campaign of disruptive road protests began on September 13, Insulate Britain activists have taken action on 19 different occasions on roads in and around London, in the port of Dover and, most recently, in Manchester and Birmingham.
They are calling on the government to agree to a program to insulate all UK homes by 2030, starting with social housing, as a practical first step towards tackling the climate crisis. So far, 174 people have been arrested 857 times in connection with the campaign, according to the group’s own estimates.
Myriam Stacey QC, representing National Highways, told the court that the nine defendants were among 15-20 activists who blocked a roundabout leading to the M25 near Waltham Cross on October 8. The demonstration was in violation of an injunction granted on September 22 prohibiting the group from demonstrating on the M25.
A National Highways official called the Insulate Britain protests “unprecedented and sustained,” Stacey said. She read lines from press releases and social media posts from the group making it clear that they knew they were breaking court orders and knew they were causing major disruption.
Stacey said the court should take into account, when deciding the sentence, that the defendants had exercised their right to protest. But, she added, “Everyone is bound by the law. The right to demonstrate is not absolute.
The case continues. Sharp said she would deliver her verdict at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.