Just Stop Oil Supporters Acquitted of Highway Obstruction after ‘One Minute March’

Five Just Stop Oil supporters were acquitted of wilful obstruction of the highway yesterday, after taking part in a ‘one minute march’ to demand that the government call a halt to all new fossil fuel licences and consents. [1]

Stephanie Aylett, James Skeet, Orla Coghlan, Lizia Woolf and Tez Burns appeared before District Judge Williams at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, in Essex. The five Just Stop Oil supporters had marched with 50-70 others on 8th April 2022. [2]

The court heard how the group had been allowed to silently march for approximately one minute, on a road connecting two major oil terminals between Purfleet and Grays in Essex, before being kettled by police. The march participants then continued to peacefully disrupt the flow of oil by sitting in the road.

Speaking after appearing in court, James Skeet, a Sound-Engineer from Manchester said:

“The government is gradually outlawing all forms of dissent, whether it be direct action, exploited workers going on strike, or any form of ‘noisy’ protest. Our criminal government and the billionaires they work for, prioritise the profits of oil companies and big business, over the wellbeing of every living thing, while their cronies in the corporate owned media spread doubt and deceit.”

“138 Just Stop Oil supporters have been imprisoned this last year, many have been held for long periods, without trial. Whether you agree with our demand or not, you should ask yourself, who will they come for next, when they are done with us? If a silent march can not even be facilitated by the police for one minute, what sort of freedom of speech is that?”

These acquittals come as one other Just Stop Oil supporter has been found guilty for painting the Murdoch owned ‘News Corp’ building orange, on the 31st October 2022. [3]

Jason Beckett, 23, from Portsmouth, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court today, charged with Criminal Damage under £5000.

Speaking before the trial he said:

“The action I took on Halloween is a natural consequence of media organisations, such as News Corp, abusing their power for decades, obfuscating the truth, and allowing international capital to destroy the natural world.”

“Actions have consequences; I’ll be in court tomorrow to face the consequences of my actions. When is their day before the courts?”

“I was born into a world that was already well above a safe threshold for a stable climate, yet no amount of protocols, agreements or accords seem to make any difference – our traditional way of achieving change does not work, so it is on normal citizens to try something different.”

“Civil resistance is now our only option to try to save the lives of ourselves and that of the next thousand generations. The stakes have never been higher. They’re counting on us.”

Jason has been ordered to pay compensation to the order of £50 per metre painted, totalling £526, and has been sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Since the Just Stop Oil campaign began on April 1st 2022, there have been over 2,000 arrests and 138 people have spent time in prison, many without trial. There are currently 9 Just Stop Oil supporters in prison awaiting trial or serving sentences for actions taken with the campaign.

We stand with our 9 supporters in prison, with the 1,800 victims of our broken criminal justice system imprisoned for over a year without trial and with the 1,700 murdered across the global south, for protecting all our lives. This is the moment for us to come together and resist the destruction of everything we love, something that is being imposed on us by a few, who only seek to enrich themselves.

We’re done with begging. We are going to stop new fossil fuel projects whether those in power agree or not. As citizens, parents and children, we have every right under British law to protect ourselves and those we love. We are the last generation who can solve this. Will you step up? Join us and Just Stop Oil. [4][5]


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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. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects. Climate Emergency Fund is Just Stop Oil’s primary funder for recruitment, training, and capacity building.

[2] Press release from April 8th ’22- https://juststopoil.org/2022/04/08/just-stop-oil-targets-key-oil-facilities-in-essex-on-their-eighth-day-of-action/

[3] Press release from 31st Oct ’22- https://juststopoil.org/2022/10/31/day-31-just-stop-oil-paint-the-town-orange/

[4] Fair Trials reports that the number of people being held in prison without trial in England and Wales is at its highest for over 50 years, with 1,800 people in prison without trial for at least a year.

[5] A recent report from Global Witness says that more than 1,700 people have died while trying to prevent mining, oil drilling or logging on their lands.