“I have no regrets, I offer no apology and I will breach the injunction again”: GP jailed for peaceful civil resistance

One Just Stop Oil supporter who appeared in a Birmingham court yesterday was jailed, five were remanded and another eight were given suspended sentences for sitting peacefully outside the Kingsbury Oil Terminal to demand an end to new oil and gas projects in the UK. [1][2]

The 14 Just Stop Oil supporters who appeared before Her Honour Judge Kelly at Queen Elizabeth Court in Birmingham on Wednesday, were accused of breaking the North Warwickshire injunction on 14th September. The private injunction appears designed to help the state protect the profits of the oil industry by effectively outlawing any protest activity near the Kingsbury Oil Terminal. [3] [4]

Sarah Benn, 55, a GP from the West Midlands was sentenced to 32 days in prison, after being found guilty of her third breach of the injunction. She will serve at least half of that time. She has already served 8 days in prison earlier this year after breaching the Warwickshire injunction in May. [5]

Sarah’s testimony to the court began with the words:

“I have no regrets. I offer no apology and I will breach the injunction again.” 

5 Just Stop Oil supporters – Sheila Shatford, Charlotte Kirin, Mary Adams, Michelle Charlesworth, Tez Burns – contested the allegation, refused to recognise the authority of the court, or asked for more time to consider the allegations and were remanded in custody until Friday or Monday.

A further 8 Just Stop Oil supporters – Richard Morgan, Holly Exley, Steven Gingall , Mark Latimer, Darcy Mitchell, George Oakenfold, Anthony Whitehouse and Chloe Naldrett – were given sentences of 23 days, suspended for 2 years plus individual costs of up to £380.

Richard Morgan, 45, an electrician and town councillor from Bridgewater said:

“I have a 1st class degree in ocean science and my dissertation was on climate change. I am a renewable energy engineer. I am a town councillor on the climate emergency portfolio. I am doing everything I can to address the climate and ecological emergency through every means available to me, but I have exhausted all the options.

“We are out of time. Direct action is our last best hope. I am asking the government to cease all new oil and gas. We have enough for a just transition. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground. “

“We are normal people protecting our childrens’ future. This is our last resort. We are the last generation that can prevent untold global suffering. Join us on October 1st in Westminster, together we can Just Stop Oil.”

Speaking before taking action last week Sheila Shatford, 67, a former NHS nurse  said:

“I cannot stand back while our government encourages the oil giants to feed our fossil fuel addiction even though they know that their actions are forcing ordinary people into acute food and fuel poverty. Hunger, cold and extremes of weather will see vulnerable people die. I have to stand up and shout out for the people who aren’t able to raise their voices.    

“It is hard to get your head round the urgency and magnitude of the climate emergency. It’s easier to ignore it or passively accept things as they are. This is so understandable, but we can, even at this late stage, turn things round. History has taught us that sustained, non violent civil disruption is the most effective way of  forcing the government to change its plans. Standing shoulder to shoulder as one we are strong and we will win. It starts with one little step – sign up to Just Stop Oil and join us on the streets in October”. 

Speaking before taking action last week, Tez Burns 34, a bicycle mechanic from Swansea said:

“Civil resistance is our best chance of ending the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis, everything else has been tried and failed. It is the best use of our time and energy if we want change to happen. 

“Rather than wasting billions subsidising the rising cost of energy and putting more money in the pockets of the oil companies, the government should be protecting the citizens of this country by investing in renewable energy and insulating our homes. The cost of living crisis will end when we end our dependence on oil. There must be no new fossil fuels.”

The 10 were the second group to appear in court from among 51 Just Stop Oil supporters remanded to prison last Friday after they had refused to comply with court proceedings and informed the court that they would break the injunction again. A further group of 14 Just Stop Oil supporters will appear in the Birmingham court today. [6] [7] [8]

Last week there were 56 ordinary people in prison for resisting new oil and gas projects, after two days of court appearances today that number falls to 37.  [9]

Since April 1st when supporters of Just Stop Oil first began blocking oil terminals there have been over 1350 arrests. 

As the government doubles down on fossil fuel energy by “ramping up supply” and breaks its manifesto commitment on fracking, Just Stop Oil supporters will continue to take nonviolent direct action to demand an end to this genocidal death project. We accept the consequences of our actions and we don’t need you to feel sorry for us, we need you to step up and join us.  

This is the moment to come together and resist. We are not prepared to just watch while they destroy everything we love. We’re done with begging. Voting has changed nothing. We are going to stop new oil whether those in power agree or not. As citizens, as humans, as parents and children we have every right under British law to protect ourselves and those we love. This is the moment, we are the last generation that can solve this. Will you step up and join us? If we all come together we can do this. We can Just Stop Oil. Join us from October 1st in Westminster.


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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. More information here: https://juststopoil.org/ 

[2]  https://juststopoil.org/2022/09/14/50-just-stop-oil-supporters-breach-the-warwickshire-injunction/

[3] In court Wednesday 21 Sept : Sheila Shatford,67, from Bristol, Tez Burns, 34, from Swansea, Charlotte Kirin, 52, from Bury St. Edmonds,  Mary Adams, 69 from London, Mark Latimer, 71 from London, Darcy Mitchell, 45, from Devon, George Oakenfold, 77, from Bristol, Michelle Charlesworth, 55, from Oxfordshire,  Anthony Whitehouse, 71, from West Yorkshire, Chloe Naldrett, 43, from Bristol, Steve Gingall, Richard Morgan, 45, an electrician from Bridgewater, Holly Exley, 34, an illustrator from Bristol, Sarah Benn, 55, a GP from West Midlands.

[4] The charge of contempt of court relates to breach of the North Warwickshire injunction.  https://www.northwarks.gov.uk/downloads/file/9139/injunction_order

[5] https://juststopoil.org/2022/05/18/civil-resistance-in-prison-continued/

[6] In court in BirminghamTuesday 20 Sept : Rajan Naidu, 71 from Birmingham, El Litten, 34 from Luton, Zoe Cohen,52, from Warrington, Gillian Bird, 67 from Bristol, Pamela Williams, 74, from Llanidloes, Susan Sidey, 57, from Bath, Susan Hampton,66, from Berkhampsted, Ruth Jarman,59 from Hampshire, Peter Morgan, 74, from Birmingham,  Eric Hoyland, Catherine Rennie-Nash, 72 from Kendal, and Diana Hekt, 68 , from West Yorkshire 

[7] https://juststopoil.org/2022/09/15/51-just-stop-oil-supporters-jailed-after-mass-civil-resistance-in-court/

[8] In court Thursday 22 Sept: Marcus Bailie, William White, Arne Springorum, Tim Hewes, Charles Laurie, Mark Coleman, Caroline Cattermole, Vivian Shah, Daniel Shaw, Eldred Whittingham, Barry Mitchell, Meredith Williams and Stephen Jarvis. At Birmingham Crown Court, Queen Elizabeth II Law Courts. Address: 1 Newton Street, Birmingham, B4 7NA.

[9] In addition to those in prison and on remand in connection with breaches of the Kingsbury injunction there are a number of people still being held without trial for taking action with Just Stop Oil: Joshua Smith, 29 from Manchester and Louis McKechnie, 21 from Weymouth, who have been on remand since July 7th and are expected to face trial in February 2023 and Xavier Gonzalez-Trimmer, who occupied one of the Essex tunnels near the Navigator oil terminal.  Chris Bennet, 31 from Bristol, who occupied one of the Essex tunnels near the Navigator oil terminal was released from HMP Chelmsford yesterday.