Serving time for the government’s climate crimes

A third Just Stop Oil supporter has been placed on long term remand in prison after being arrested for blocking the M25 last week. She is due to face trial on 19th August along with two others who have already spent three weeks on remand.

Louise Lancaster, 56, from Cambridge was among five Just Stop Oil supporters who blocked the M25 in three places last Wednesday to demand that the government calls an immediate halt to new oil and gas projects in the UK. [1]

She joins Louis McKechnie, 21 and Joshua Smith, 29 as the third Just Stop Oil supporter placed on long term remand for taking part in civil resistance in recent weeks. Louis and Josh were detained after invading the Silverstone racetrack to disrupt the British Grand Prix on 3rd July and were subsequently imprisoned until their trial date of 19th August. This means they will spend at least 7 weeks in prison without trial. [2]  

 A Spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said:

“This is how the government responds to the climate emergency, by locking up those who challenge them, whilst they have their parties, tell their lies and fight amongst themselves. Every academic and scientist agrees we have to end new oil and gas. Why is the government betraying us by opening new oil fields?

“They lock us up and leave millions struggling to get to the end of the week, having to choose between heating and eating.  But you can’t imprison a flood, you can’t put a heatwave in the dock, you can’t fine a wildfire. 

“We are not the criminals here. We are upholding a higher moral code – the right to life, of ourselves, of others, of future generations.

“We have made a choice to resist the destruction of humanity, and we are prepared to accept the consequences. We don’t need anyone to feel sorry for us, we need you to join us, to step up and take action.

In a recent article in the Justice Gap Dr. Rona Epstein, an honorary research fellow at Coventry Law School wrote [3]:   

“Following the introduction of the ‘no real prospect’ test under The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, defendants should not be remanded to custody if the offence is such that the defendant is unlikely to receive a custodial sentence if convicted.

“We all know that we have a right to protest peacefully. We know too that imprisonment is a last resort (the court must not pass a custodial sentence unless it is of the opinion that the offence was so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified for the offence, s.230(2) of the Sentencing Act 2020). We know too that we are all innocent until proved guilty. Nonetheless people have been taken to prison from the site of peaceful protest and have served terms of imprisonment on remand.

“In my study of 228 cases of sanctions for contempt of court which is a civil matter, and does not come within the ambit, nor the protections, of the criminal law, there are ten cases, five of them women, who served time in prison on remand following an entirely peaceful protest against the production of fossil fuels at Kingsbury Oil Terminal in North Warwickshire.”

We All Want to Just Stop Oil is bringing together thousands of ordinary people from the progressive labour movement, faith communities, charities, social institutions and environmental groups to help create mass civil resistance. Join our zoom calls every Tuesday at 7pm to find out more [4]. It’s 2022 and the time to stand by has passed.


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Notes to editors