Legal

Nine Insulate Britain activists jailed for breach of injunction

Nine protesters from Insulate Britain – the group campaigning for a national home insulation programme – have been jailed for breaching a court order banning them from protesting on the M25.

Insulate Britain campaigners (back from left) Tim Speers, Roman Paluch-Machnik, Emma Smart, Ben Taylor, James Thomas (front from left) Louis McKechnie, Ana Heyatawin, Oliver Roc. Photo: Insulate Britain

Ana Heyatawin, 58, and Louis McKechnie, 21, were jailed for three months. Ben Buse, 36, Roman Paluch, 28, Oliver Roc, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, and James Thomas, 47, each received four-month sentences.

Ben Taylor, who said yesterday he would continue to block roads unless he was jailed, was imprisoned for six months.

The judge, Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr Justice Chamberlain, said there was no alternative to custodial sentences. She said the group’s action were “so serious” and members had made it clear they planned to flout court orders. She said all would serve at least half of their sentences:

“Importantly, none of the defendants has demonstrated any contrition or understanding of the seriousness of deliberately breaching a court order. Each continues to believe that his or her actions were justified.

“The defendants, or some of them, seem to want to be martyrs for their cause and the media campaign surrounding this hearing appears designed to suggest this. We, however, have to act dispassionately and proportionately.”

A statement from Insulate Britain today said:

“By imprisoning us, the government shows its cowardice.

“They would rather lock up pensioners than insulate their homes. They would rather lock up teachers than create thousands of proper jobs. They would rather lock up young people than take practical steps to reduce emissions. They will lock us up and leave thousands to die of cold this winter.

“We knew we would face prison when we took this action, but we could not stand by while the government betrays the general public.” 

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8 replies »

  1. We get more and more like an old eastern European dictatorship under Boris and his conservatives
    But what can you expect from a party from the rich for the rich

  2. Perhaps you should have read a bit more of what Dame Victoria Sharp stated, Rob. Then you would find your comment was just like a comment from an old eastern European dictatorship that ignored the democratic freedoms of it’s citizens. I suppose that is why there is the word irony.

    I am interested to see how the costs to the public are recovered, or whether the public have to cough up. Not the rich public, but everyone. I understand that is around £91k just for this group and is under consideration.

  3. “ Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.

    My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.”

    (Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail.)

    The right to legal pressure is of course now controlled by the state.
    As the Schlesingers wrote to the Guardian in 2016 – “Certainly, the more closely we approximate to North Korea, the more in control we shall feel.”

  4. So, the rest of the world’s freedoms do not matter?

    I believe Dame Victoria Sharp made it quite clear that they do. And contrary to the rather strange reference, it was not legal. But that is what you get when you post a quotation which is not appropriate for another situation and the wording makes that perfectly clear.

    Much more simply put, if you don’t want the time, don’t do the crime. A crime is not legal.

    A lot of insulation can be supplied for £91k. Especially when that is multiplied a number of times.

  5. I do not always agree with what Martin Freerick Collyer has to say in his comments but this time I do.
    These people were warned what would happen if they continued their protesting by bring roads and motorways to a standstill. Therefore they deserve the punishment they have been given.
    While protesting they blatantly showed no consideration to the thousands of ordinary people whose daily lives they were disrupting and financial costs they were incurring.
    If they need to protest surely they can find a more appropriate way to get their case across

    • I sympathize, Janet, but have sufficient respect for the integrity of these protesters to trust that had they been able to find a more acceptable, less disruptive means of getting action, they would have done so. So let’s agree to differ.

      • Hmmm.

        It is no excuse to not be able to come up with a way of protesting that is legal. Maybe, if more of the public were sympathetic to the desire to have more taxation to pay for a small group’s ideas then deliberate disruption could be avoided. For some who haven’t been able to pay for their own insulation they will now be required to pay out more than the cost of insulation in costs!

        I see that £45k costs are now awarded against them. I wonder if those impacted by their actions believe £45k is enough. Perhaps they should go and sit in a road to inconvenience others to protest the Government need to do more, or in this case, the Courts? And then say, it’s okay because my motives were fine-to me. Maybe not to all those I have inconvenienced deliberately, but hey ho, they are not worthy-apart from paying the bill we want to give them.

        [Edited by moderator]

  6. Thank you Janet.

    I have done my bit of protesting in the past, but always found ways of doing it that were legal and respectful of others who were not in agreement.

    Once that line is crossed, where does it stop? Does a poor recidivist decide to rob a bank as it was his/her way of protesting against being poor?

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