As experts call out the “insanity” of oil producing nation’s plans to blow the remaining carbon budget twice over, Just Stop Oil supporters have continued their campaign of peacefully marching in the streets of London to demand an end to new oil and gas.
This week 186 arrests were made at three marches on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, bringing the total number of arrests of Just Stop Oil supporters since October 30th to around 300.
So far this week 78 supporters of Just Stop Oil have been charged with willful obstruction of the highway or breach of section 7 of the Public Order Act. Some 50 have been held in police custody to appear at Magistrates Courts across London and been subsequently released on bail. On Friday, Patrick Walker was released on a GPS tag to prevent him entering within the M25. Fourteen supporters remain in police custody and are expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday.
The courts are feeling the pressure as the volume of peaceful protestors being brought before them increases. There have been shortages of transfer vans, a lack of court spaces and people withholding their names in non-compliance.
The police are going to extreme lengths to bring peaceful protestors before a judge, holding 14 slow marchers, arrested on Wednesday this week, for two nights in police custody.
The courts of law remain a site of civil resistance. In defiance of the conditions imposed, many people marched again, breaching bail and risking prison. Others called out the complicity of the Judiciary.
Appearing in court on a charge of Wilful Obstruction of the Highway after being arrested for slow marching on Wednesday this week, Callum Goode 24, said:
“Regardless of the decision you make today, I will continue in nonviolent civil resistance against this genocidal government. If you send me to prison, I will continue in resistance. If you release me then I will continue to peacefully march regardless of any bail conditions you impose. If you give me a tag I will take it off, because if my moral responsibility to be in resistance conflicts with the orders of a judiciary that is complicit in genocide, then I must not comply with those orders. I must continue to act out of love.”
Crown Courts Update
Fat Cat lawyers left begging for crumbs?
The case relating to the M25 gantry actions continued at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday as Mr Justice Soole handed down his judgement on costs. The case involved the first group of 12 Just Stop Oil supporters who were sentenced on October 30th for contempt of court for breaking an M25 injunction.
National Highways Limited (NHL) submitted evidence that showed total costs of £229,525 for the legal work involved in bringing the contempt of court hearing against the group, an equal share of which would amount to £19,127 per defendant. NHL sought to recover £58,800 from the group.
After submissions from the defendants about the excessive nature of the claim, Judge Soole, declared that 80% of the claim divided equally between the 12 defendants would be the starting point for considering the cost burden for each defendant.
He then announced that six of the twelve supporters, who had been found not to have had any knowledge of the injunction, prior to or during the action, would be spared costs. The remaining six supporters were awarded costs of between £3,000 and £5,000 depending on their individual circumstances.
NHL will receive a total of £21,500 against their costs of £229,525. The outcome adds further weight to the argument that pursuing civil claims against nonviolent protesters is a waste of public money, particularly when those protestors already face draconian criminal penalties.
20 Insulate Britain public nuisance trials and counting..
Insulate Britain public nuisance trials have resumed this week, with four supporters appearing at Hove Crown Court for taking part in Insulate Britain’s 2021 campaign of nonviolent civil resistance undertaken to demand the UK government insulate Britain’s cold and leaky homes.
Louise Lancaster, Nick Till, Stefania Morosi and Tim Speers were found guilty of causing a Public Nuisance after they blocked the M25 motorway at Junction 1A on the 15th September 2021.
On Friday they were each handed prison sentences of 8 weeks suspended for 18 months, costs of between £900 and £3,200 and community service orders of up to 140 hours.
Louise Lancaster, 58, a teacher from Cambridge said:
“I am proud to have been in nonviolent civil resistance with Insulate Britain to save lives, stop families choosing between heating and eating and strive for a livable future for all. The state ensured that our defences in law were ruled out, I call on the legal profession to push back against criminalising those sounding the alarm in this crisis.”
At the start of the trial on Monday, people from the group Defend our Juries sat silently outside the court holding signs that say: “Jurors have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience”.
The show of resistance from the group (which includes Quakers, doctors, athletes, professors and a former government lawyer) comes amid mounting concern jury trials are being increasingly politicised. After a series of acquittals have embarrassed ministers and politicians, measures have been taken by Judges and lawmakers to render the role of jurors substantially meaningless, while preserving the appearance of jury trial.
In the 20 Insulate Britain jury trials for public nuisance charges to date, four trials have resulted in a hung jury, two trials have resulted in acquittals, ten have resulted in a guilty verdict and three have been deferred. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has applied for retrials in the three cases where the jury failed to reach a majority verdict; the twelve people to whom this applies have been told to expect the retrials to take place early in 2024.
The CPS has chosen to summon a total of 56 supporters to answer at least 201 charges of public nuisance across at least 45 jury trials, with additional retrials planned into 2024. These trials are planned to be heard across Inner London, Hove, Lewes and Reading Crown Courts and we estimate will take up at least 1,462 hours of court time at a cost of over £1 million.