The UK Government announced today it will is seek to obtain a court injunction against Insulate Britain, the informal group of eco-loonys after their protests have blocked London’s orbital motorway,, the M25 five times in just over a week. The legal action against Insulate Britain will be launched by Home Secretary Priti Patel and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Both have vowed to make sure “guerrilla” activists “cannot keep disrupting and endangering people’s lives”.
George Eustice, Secretary for Environment, another minister whose department is involved, told Sky News: “We are taking legal action, I understand, to seek an injunction that would give police stronger powers to be able to intervene pre-emptively to stop these protests happening so that you are not getting a situation where you have to wait for them to sit on the road, cause chaos and then have to remove them after the event.”
This means the injunction will be framed to enable police to act on intelligent by arresting protestors gathing at the site of a planned protest, and overcome some favourite tactics of Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion which involv protestors chaining themselves together. As the law currently stands officers can face accusations of criminal damage if they forcibly cut the chains in order to remove the protestors one by one.
The legal action, expected to begin at the High Court on Thursday, come after Surrey Police on Tuesday arrested 38 activists from the group who targeted junctions 9 and 10 of Britain’s busiest motorway at 7.57am on Tuesday. It will be worded, we understand, in a way that would put ptotestors in “contempt of court” should they attempt to set up road blocks. Once the protestors are shown to be in comtempt, the police are empowers to take any action necessary to remove them to prison until such time as they can be brought to court.
Video shot by reporters from LBC radio showed the protesters walking on to the motorway and sitting down on the ground in front of moving traffic. They also superglued themselves to the road surface (pictured below)
Picture: Steve Parsons
Once freed some protestors held up banners reading “Insulate Britain” while others poured paint onto the road surface before being dragged away and arrested.
Writing in The Daily Mail, Ms Patel and Mr Shapps condemned the tactics of the protesters, and pledged their determination to take “decisive action” against any future disruptive demonstrations. “The protesters have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen.
“We are giving (police) powers to better manage such guerrilla tactics in future.
“In the medium-term, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will put public nuisance on a statutory footing, ensuring there are appropriate sentences for the harm caused,” their article contunued.
An Insulate Britain spokesman being interviewed by Breakfast TV show Good Morning Britain stormed out of the studio when it was revealed that his own home is not fully insulated.
UPDATE: While this article was being written a civil action brought by National Highways agency resulted in a High Court Injunction being granted, which will effectively stop the blocking of highways by protestors.