32 Insulate Britain activists facing two years in jail for injunction breach

Insulate Britain today revealed that up to 32 of its activists now face up to two years in prison for breaching a court injunction by blocking traffic on motorways.

Nine of its protesters have already been summoned to the High Court in London on November 16 for breaching the National Highways injunction by disrupting the M25.

Insulate Britain said they face a contempt of court charge and if found guilty could be subject to unlimited fines, seizure of assets and jail sentences of up to two years.

It added that a further 23 activists, who have also defied one or more of the four recent injunctions, are expected to be summoned to court in the coming days.

The activists, who have now caused seven weeks of chaos, were effectively banned from all major roads in England on Monday last week after a major High Court ruling. 

Today, one of the protesters from the Extinction Rebellion offshoot urged ‘everyone to examine their conscience and consider whether they want to be complicit in genocide’, adding: ‘If the answer is no, then join us on the motorway.’

Among the 32 Insulate Britain activists who face up to two years in prison are (left to right, first row): Ruth Jarman, Dr Diana Warner, Rowan Tilly, Jess Causby, Steve Gower, Liam Norton, Greg Frey, Reverend Sue Parfitt, (second row) Mark Latimer, Dr Ben Buse, Gabby Ditton, Arne Springorum, Tony Hill, Theresa Norton, Stephanie, Emma Smart (third row) Emily Brockelbank, Biff Whipster, Amy Pritchard, Paul Sheeky, Louis McKechnie (bottom row) Roman Paulch, Ben Taylor, Ana Heyatawin, David, Oliver Roc, Tracey Mallaghan and Tim Speers

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Insulate Britain said the civil proceedings will be presided over by a judge with no jury present and its activists will all have the right to legal representation.

The group also pointed out that if their activists choose to admit contempt and apologise to the court, this will likely reduce the seriousness of any punishment.

Five of the Insulate Britain 32 in profile

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Ruth Jarman is a viola-playing Oxford graduate who is one of the most well-known faces at Insulate Britain protests.

The 58-year-old mother-of-three works for a Christian charity called Operation Noah which promotes action in churches on climate change.

Jarman is a long-standing member of the Christian Climate Action group and has previously taken part in a range of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations.

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Diana Warner is a retired GP turned Insulate Britain activist from Bristol who spent 30 years working for the NHS.

Last year the 62-year-old was held on remand in jail for four weeks for throwing paint at four trade union buildings and went on a hunger strike.

She is a former Green Party candidate for Filton and Bradley Stoke in 2017.

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Sue Parfitt is a retired Anglican vicar from Bristol who has been arrested 11 times in just over seven weeks at Insulate Britain protests.

Reverend Parfitt was taken away from the M25 in Hertfordshire yesterday, which was the fourth time the 79-year-old had been arrested in nine days.

She was fined more than £1,500 in July after she took part in two XR road blockades in Parliament Square and at a Ministry of Defence site near Bristol.

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Rowan Tilly is a 63-year-old furniture maker from Oxford who has been a peace campaigner for decades.

She was among protesters who took part in an ‘anti-nuclear raid’ at Buckingham Palace in 1993, and has compared her civil disobedience to the actions of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the suffragettes.

XR claimed she was praised for her ‘sincerity’ and her ‘noble’ deeds by a judge in 2019 after being arrested over a protest in Regent Street, and was then given an absolute discharge.

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Jess Causby, a 25-year-old from Walthamstow, East London, is part of Insulate Britain and has also taken part in protests against the HS2 rail line.

She glued her hands to the road at junction 6 of the M56 in Manchester yesterday and has praised the group for getting the issue of insulation ‘all over people’s dinner table conversations for the last six weeks’.

However, if they choose to contest it then the hearing is scheduled to last one and half days and the case against all of the first nine supporters will be heard at once.

Theresa Norton, 62, a local councillor from Scarborough, who disrupted traffic on the M56 motorway near Manchester Airport yesterday, said: ‘I don’t do this lightly.

‘But, like the nine who face court and a potential prison sentence, I have to stand up to government bullying; to overcome the fear they instil through threats and intimidating legal bureaucracy. They would rather silence us, than protect the public from climate collapse.

‘If we are ever to achieve our climate commitments we need to start insulating homes now. I will continue being a part of this campaign and risk being imprisoned or losing my home until our government accepts that it must get on with the job.’

Paul, 46, from Warrington who also took part in yesterday’s M56 disruption, said: ‘I am knowingly breaking a high court injunction by sitting in a road, as the courts in this country are no longer about justice, but are about preserving injustice.

‘Our government will lock us up and leave thousands of people dying of cold this winter.

‘By failing to take the first basic step to reduce our carbon emissions the government is locking in the death of millions from starvation and conflict caused by climate collapse.

‘I ask everyone to examine their conscience and consider whether they want to be complicit in genocide. If the answer is no, then join us on the motorway.

‘Nonviolent civil resistance is the best chance we have of achieving the changes we need to ensure the survival of our children.’

And Amy, 36, from Kingston, South West London, who was also on the M56 yesterday, said: ‘I am knowingly breaking the injunction because it is my duty to prevent the horror of both local and global consequences of not reducing our emissions.

‘I beg you to examine the situation closely and support nonviolent civil resistance, in whatever way you can. We have great power when we work together.’

Yesterday, police failed to arrest Insulate Britain activists blocking a busy road near a hospital, instead telling them that they did not ‘want to put good people in a cell’. 

West Midlands Police asked the group of protesters to leave the A400 yesterday morning, giving them ‘another ten minutes’ on the road near Birmingham Children’s Hospital before the group ‘dispersed peacefully’. 

In a video, a constable could be seen asking them to move as nearby ‘you’ve got the children’s hospital, you’ve got people that are dying, kids that are dying, people going for cancer therapies’.

But despite the force’s softly-softly approach, Insulate Britain returned a few hours later to the streets of central Birmingham, causing disruption as they clogged up the junction once more.

The activists were once again ‘spoken to’ by officers, before agreeing to leave, the force said.

Yesterday’s demonstrations in Birmingham and Manchester were the first time the group has operated north of London.

Greater Manchester Police were forced to spend hours dislodging activists who had glued themselves to the road near Manchester Airport, eventually arresting 11 people.

The group also targeted their normal stamping ground of the M25, with Hertfordshire Police arresting 20 people trying to block Junction 23, and the A1081 St Albans Road slip road. 

Protesters from Insulate Britain block a road near the M62 near Manchester Airport yesterday

Protesters from Insulate Britain block a road near the M62 near Manchester Airport yesterday

Activists have blocked roads on 18 days since September 13, causing misery for drivers stuck in long queues of traffic.

So far, 161 people have been involved in the roadblock campaign and there have been 770 arrests, excluding Tuesday’s action.

Over the weekend Swedish activist Greta Thunberg voiced support for their tactics, saying sometimes you have to ‘p*** people off’ to protect the environment. 

It comes as world leaders and members of the Royal Family continue to gather in Glasgow for the landmark Cop26 climate change conference.


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