Now eco-activists face being banned from ALL motorways – as brazen protesters taunt Priti Patel by pitching up outside her office
- Interim injunction has been granted which bans the eco-activists from the M25
- Breaching the injunction could lead to up to two years in jail and unlimited fine
- After the injunction was granted activists blocked the road outside Home Office
Eco-activists who have caused chaos to drivers could be banned from the entire motorway network.
Government lawyers were last night examining whether to apply for sweeping powers that could see protesters locked up if they set foot on the trunk roads.
It comes after an interim injunction was granted banning them from the M25, the scene of five disruptive protests in the past ten days.
Breaching the injunction could lead to up to two years in jail, an unlimited fine and confiscation of assets.
However, just hours after the injunction was granted yesterday, activists blocked the road outside the Home Office in London and burned copies of their police bail papers.
Protesters from Insulate Britain sit on the road during a demonstration outside the Home Office in central London
Protesters occupy the lanes on the M25 in Surrey as they continue with their demonstrations
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the injunction was a ‘important step’ in stopping activists ‘putting lives needlessly at risk on our busy roads’
A spokesman for Insulate Britain – an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion – accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of ‘missing the bigger picture’.
‘Currently 8,500 people a year die unnecessarily in the UK because of their frozen homes and climate collapse presents an incalculable threat to our way of life,’ the spokesman said.
‘A more measured way in which she could discharge her ministerial responsibility would be to ask the Prime Minister to start the process of insulating Britain’s leaky homes.
‘As soon as the Government makes a meaningful statement that we can trust, we will leave the motorway.’
An application for a full injunction, due to be heard at the High Court on October 5, could be far broader in scope and ministers are also considering other measures to stop the protests, it is understood.
A Department for Transport spokesman said National Highways would consider securing ‘additional powers of arrest’ for police.
Miss Patel said: ‘This injunction is an important step in stopping these activists putting lives needlessly at risk on our busy roads.
‘Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for people to make their voices heard. It cannot be at the expense of public safety. The police have our full support in cracking down on this reckless behaviour.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs the Government would look at changing the law to deal with protesters in future.
‘We will review the powers, because clearly it’s unacceptable for people to walk on to, not just a major highway, but motorway, to stop the traffic and be released the next day and do the same thing again,’ he said.
Government lawyers were last night examining whether to apply to apply for sweeping powers that could see eco-activists locked up if they set foot on the motorway network
Eco activists from the environmental group ‘Insulate Britain’ burn their police letters containing bail conditions and warnings of arrest
Police minister Kit Malthouse told MPs that the injunction ‘should act as a major deterrent’.
Tory MP Lee Anderson told the Commons that police should ‘adopt a zero-tolerance approach and as soon one as of these morons steps foot on the motorway they should be carted off in an electric police van and locked up in a fully insulated cell’.
Holly Lynch, a Labour home affairs spokesman, acknowledged the right to protest but said she ‘backed the police’ if protests were unsafe or illegal.
Outside the Home Office in central London yesterday, Insulate Britain activist Stephen Pritchard, 67, a property maintenance worker from Somerset, burned his bail conditions and said he had been arrested three times so far.
‘We explain to the police each time they arrest us that we are going to go straight back out and obstruct the highway again. We want to be locked up in order to force the Government to do something,’ he said.
‘If they put us in prison for years, then we have won. This is the power of nonviolent action.’
Biff Whipster, 54, a retail worker from Canterbury, has been arrested four times.
‘If the Government chose to lock us up, it will just reveal their total lack of empathy,’ he said.
Anthony Whitehouse, a 71-year-old IT worker from Yorkshire, said he had been arrested four times over the past two weeks.
Thou shalt not block the m25! Diocese condemns clergy who shut down motorway or eco-protests
By Josh White and Andrew Levy for the Daily Mail
A Church of England diocese last night criticised members of clergy who took part in the M25 eco-protests.
The Diocese of Oxford said Tim Hewes, 71, Sue Parfitt, 79, Mark Coleman, 62, and Martin Newell, 54, had ‘frustrated many people’ by blocking the motorway.
Reverend Hewes, who once sewed up his lips in protest at the influence of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has ‘permission to officiate’ in the diocese although he does not have a parish.
Reverend Parfitt, from Bristol, and Reverend Coleman, a former borough dean of Rochdale, are both retired from ministry.
Father Newell, a Roman Catholic priest belonging to the Passionist order, works with asylum seekers in Birmingham.
Activists block the road and stage a protest outside the Home Office in London today
Asked about Rev Hewes yesterday, a spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford said: ‘The actions of Rev Hewes and others, while arguably well-intentioned, have frustrated many people and we’re unclear how the actions have been productive in encouraging the urgent change required.
‘Legitimate protest can play an important part in national debate and decision making, but the actions of Insulate Britain in recent days aren’t helping.
‘Responding constructively to the current emergency is the responsibility of every family, every workplace, every village, town and city, every company, and every public institution. We all need to work together.’
Rev Hewes, a retired dentist, yesterday said the Bishop of Dorchester, Gavin Collins, who comes under the Diocese of Oxford, had told him ‘he does support issues regarding climate change and the environment but not about breaking the law’.
Speaking from his home in Charney Bassett, Oxfordshire, he added: ‘I’m really sorry that we are having to do this, I know the frustration of being stuck in traffic jams, I am not underestimating the impact. We get called a lot of stuff on the roads. I have been down there all four times, I have been arrested four times.’
While some villagers said they supported the campaign group’s aims, others were unforgiving.
One local said: ‘He’s quite an interesting character. He was going to protest about some trees that had to come down because they were dangerous for the village.
‘He was going to strap himself to the trees but he didn’t do that in the end. He even sewed his mouth together, that’s very recently. He came here about ten years ago –I’ve got no time for him.’
An elderly woman added: ‘I don’t attend his church. I think it’s disgusting, it’s stopping good people, doctors who can’t get to their patients, patients who have waited ages for appointments had them cancelled, it is just unbelievable.’
Rev Hewes’s own semi-detached home scores only an E on its energy performance certificate.
The Birmingham home that Fr Newell was living in until earlier this year also has an E rating.
Three clerics including Fr Newell are registered owners of the property in Sparkhill, Birmingham, as trustees of the Congregation of the Passion of Christ, according to Land Registry documents.
Fr Newell has been jailed at least six times, with convictions including causing £30,000 of damage by hammering on a nuclear convoy vehicle at RAF Wittering in 2000. He has also taken part in Extinction Rebellion protests.
Rev Coleman’s home in Rochdale has an energy rating of C, according to its report. His wife Wendy Cocks, 63, a Labour member of Rochdale council, said yesterday: ‘We will get it fully insulated.’ Rev Parfitt’s maisonette in Bristol is D-rated. The report said the walls had no insulation and were ‘very poor’, and the boiler and radiators were ‘poor’.
Neighbours said they hadn’t seen her for some time. One commented: ‘She’s still on her adventures, it seems.’
Insulate Britain spokesman Liam Norton yesterday admitted to living in a south London council home with poor insulation.
Lambeth Palace declined to comment yesterday.
Asked about Fr Newell, the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham said it could not ‘restrict clergy from attending protests’.
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