Five Insulate Britain members jailed for defying M25 protest injunctions


Show caption Theresa Norton, 63, Dr Diana Warner, 62, El Litten, 35, and Steve Pritchard, 62, outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday. Photograph: Ian West/PA Insulate Britain Five Insulate Britain members jailed for defying M25 protest injunctions Court imposes custodial sentences of between 24 and 32 days and hands 11 others suspended sentences Damien Gayle @damiengayle Wed 2 Feb 2022 18.49 GMT Share on Facebook

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An activist from Insulate Britain hung a banner proclaiming “insulate or die” at the high court in London on Wednesday as five members of the group were sentenced to jail.

Arne Springorum displayed the banner as El Litten, 35, Theresa Norton, 63, Steve Pritchard, 62, and Dr Diana Warner, 62, were given custodial sentences of between 24 and 32 days. Ben Taylor, 27, who was due to be released this month from a six-month jail sentence imposed in November, was sentenced to another 32 days. Eleven more protesters received suspended sentences.

All were convicted of contempt of court for defying injunctions banning their protest blockades of the M25 during a campaign of civil disobedience last autumn. The activists had vowed to continue their actions until the government agreed to a programme of insulating all Britain’s draughty and energy-inefficient homes by 2030, or until they were sent to prison.

“Each defendant made a free and deliberate decision to breach the order, knowing that the consequence might be imprisonment,” said Lord Justice William Davis, sitting alongside Mr Justice Johnson.

Davis said they were not reviewing the injunction. “We are simply concerned with the fact that an order was made by a court and a court order is to be obeyed,” he said.

Insulate Britain said its activists received the “lightest possible sentences”.

Various defendants spoke in the high court case. Ruth Jarman, 58, said: “I admit that I broke the injunction. It was a choice I made because I answer to a higher authority, that of love and life.

“I am sorry for the impact of our protests on the people who were affected. I hate disrupting people and my actions were aiming to prevent the greater disruption of climate breakdown. So I do not regret breaking the injunction and I cannot promise not to do it again.”

Those sent to prison had glued themselves hand in hand on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice and refused to move until they were taken away by police.

Three defendants, Springorum, Liam Norton and Jess Causby, walked free on Tuesday after Davis ruled there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them. Springorum returned to the court on Wednesday to hang the group’s protest banner from a balcony overlooking the great hall of the 140-year-old court complex.

The group were the third from Insulate Britain to face court for breaking the order made last September, one of a series of injunctions granted to National Highways, which banned them from blocking the M25 and its sliproads.

Nine members of the group were jailed on 17 November, and two were given jail sentences and seven more handed suspended sentences on 15 December.