What does injunction mean? Legal remedy can stop activists but there are loopholes
What is the injunction?
The High Court order, which officially came into force this morning, prohibits protesters from ‘blocking, endangering, slowing down, preventing, or obstructing traffic on the M25’.
The National Highways won the legal remedy from the High Court last night.
The order includes verges, central reservation, on- and off-slip roads, overbridges and underbridges including the Dartford Crossing and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
It remains in place until 21 March 2022.
How will activists be punished?
Anyone from the group who tries to protest on the M25 will be in contempt of court and at risk of prison, and an unlimited fine.
What happens next?
Mr Justice Lavender, who granted the injunction, said there will be a further hearing on October 5 at 10.30am.
National Highways intends to return to court to extend the injunction and potentially seek additional powers of arrest.
What are the loopholes?
It is only in place for the M25, meaning protesters could get around it by taking their disruptive actions to a different road.
Last week the group targeted the A3 and the A10 in Hertfordshire.
Eco-zealots from Insulate Britain have thwarted an injunction that could see them chucked in jail by descending on the Home Office.
Activists blocked off a road, lit a fire and burned manuscripts in the central London street – which dodges the court order that only covers the M25.
The group, including many who have been seen at multiple demos in the last week, sat brandishing homemade signs with messages such as: ‘Please act now.’
Others brazenly gave their names and jobs as Xavier Gonzalez, a trimmer, Janine Eagling, a bike instructor, and Stefania Morosi, a yoga teacher.
It comes after Grant Shapps revealed a judge granted the injunction last night following a week of chaos on major highways.
The Transport Secretary said the anarchists will face contempt of court and potentially be locked up if they continue their antics.
Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed the ‘important’ move and said it will mean ‘people can get moving’ on the busy road again.
Mr Shapps and Ms Patel had earlier vowed to crack down on the Extinction Rebellion splinter group and were said to be ‘furious’ at the protesters.
But the limited scope of the injunction was quickly realised by the eco-warriors as they simply moved to other roads the order does not cover.
A spokesman for the group said: ‘We have to move quickly. What we do, I believe, in the next three to four years will determine the future of humanity.
‘For ten days now, campaigners from Insulate Britain have been blocking motorways to urge our government to make a meaningful statement we can all trust on insulating and retrofitting the houses of this country.
‘Doing anything less would be a betrayal of any UK government’s first duty: to protect the British people. We urge you to ensure this meaningful statement is made swiftly so ordinary people can stop blocking roads.
‘But, if you believe, as you say, that our acts are outrageous and illegal, and if you believe there is no right of necessity for citizens to cause disruption to prevent the infinitely greater threat of destruction to our economy and way of life, then you have a duty to act decisively.
‘The offence of creating a public nuisance is already there to be used, you didn’t need an injunction. Take us to court, charge us, and put us in prison.’
He added: ‘Alternatively, if you think we have a case, you have a responsibility to the country to at least meet and talk with us.
‘And you will find we are entirely reasonable in our demands which will save the lives of 8500 from fuel poverty this winter. We want to stop the roadblocks as much as you.
‘The climate crisis is the biggest threat to Britain in its long history. It requires decisive action. The country is waiting to see if you have what it takes.’
The group – including many who have been seen at multiple demos – sat brandishing homemade signs with messages such as: ‘Please act now.’ The same woman was at today’s protest (left) as the M25 one yesterday (right)
Activists blocked off a road, lit a fire and burned manuscripts in the central London street – which dodges the court order that only covers the M25. Left: An activist at the Home Office today. Right: The same one on the M25 yesterday
Others gave their names and jobs as Xavier Gonzalez, a trimmer, Janine Eagling, a bike instructor, and Stefania Morosi, a yoga teacher. A man at today’s protest (left) was also at other ones on the M25 (right)
It comes after Grant Shapps revealed a judge granted the injunction last night following a week of chaos on major highways. Pictured: A protester seen today (left) and on the M25 (right)
Announcing the injunction via Twitter this morning, Mr Shapps said: ‘Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk.’ Pictured: The same protester today (left) and on the M25 (right)
Announcing the injunction via Twitter this morning, Mr Shapps said: ‘Invading a motorway is reckless and puts lives at risk.
‘I asked National Highways to seek an injunction against M25 protestors which a judge granted last night. Effective later today, activists will face contempt of court with possible imprisonment if they flout.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the ‘important injunction’ would mean ‘people can get moving again’ on the M25. She added: ‘We will not tolerate lives being put at risk. Those who continue to do so risk imprisonment.’
But Insulate Britain indicated that they will continue blocking the M25 despite the injunction. It said in a statement earlier today that ‘right now our campaign goes on’.
The two Cabinet ministers last night vowed to get tough with the protesters, revealing in the Daily Mail they had instructed officials to sought the injunction.
Home Secretary Miss Patel and Transport Secretary Mr Shapps condemned the ‘arrogant’ protesters and promised decisive action to stop them.
The injunction was requested by National Highways in the High Court. It means protesters will face arrest and a potential instant jail term for contempt of court. The legal case is likely to focus on the danger to road users.
Eco-zealots from Insulate Britain have descended on the Home Office after the government got an injunction that could see them locked up
They set up a small cauldron where they set fire to manuscripts with indistinct writing on them
They are pictured chucking manuscripts into the flames during the bizarre demonstrating today
Activists blocked off a road outside the central London building in their latest brazen protest
One of the demonstrators claps as another watches on during the latest brazen protest today
A group of elderly men sat in the road brandishing homemade signs with messages such as: ‘Please act now’
Their latest stunt saw them hog the road while being watched closely by security guards from the building
Metropolitan Police officers stood by and watched as the demonstrators continued to sit on the road
A source said: ‘Priti and Grant are furious that the lives of the law-abiding majority are continuing to be disrupted by the actions of an extreme minority.’
‘They 100 per cent back National Highways to take legal action against these individuals to ensure those who the police arrest are not released on bail and able to return to disrupting and endangering people’s lives in this way.’
The topic was raised in the Commons during PMQ’s today, as Labour MP Steve McCabe said: ‘This is grossly dangerous and irresponsible behaviour and I hope these people will come to their senses.’
He suggested ‘those who are successfully prosecuted receive a sentence which ensures they’re put to work helping to insulate the homes of those less fortunate than themselves’.
Justice minister Kit Malthouse said: ‘What a splendid idea.’ He said the Government is investing ‘significant amounts’ encouraging people to take ‘green measures’ in their homes.
He said: ‘I think putting some of those individuals towards that effort – more than happy for them to come and have a look at the insulation in my roof which, you know, could always do with some improvement possibly. I think that’s a jolly good idea.’
Mr Malthouse also said in a separate answer that currently ‘unfortunately the penalty that attaches to those offences (of blocking a public highway) is quite weak, shall we say’.
He added: ‘In the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill that is coming there will be a strengthening of police powers to deal with this issue’.
Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse said: ‘I want to express my support to every single police officer who helps to keep us safe and keep public order, and their safety is essential.
‘But I also understand the side of the protesters who really feel that climate change is a threat to their future and we must make sure that the fundamental right to protest and assembly is protected. I worry that injunctions such as this will serve to pit the police against protesters.’
Tory MP Huw Merriman said: ‘The real tragedy of these morons on the motorway is that they set the cause of those of us who are trying to advance decarbonisation in the transport system back, and they also put lives at risk.’
Priti Patel (pictured in the Commons on Tuesday) and Grant Shapps instructed officials to seek an injunction against Insulate Britain
Louise Lancaster, a teacher, and another woman stand on Marsham Street in Westminster as they protest outside the Home Office today
Supporters hold placards and speak to the assembled media in what they called a ‘press conference’ on Wednesday afternoon
Metropolitan Police officers stand in formation as they watch the demonstrators outside the building, but do not intervene
Officers organise themselves around the corner from the protest on Marsham Street in the centre of the capital on Wednesday
He welcomed the minister’s statement and asked if the injunctions are not successful to look at legislation and linking fines to economic damage caused.
Conservative MP Sir Robert Syms welcomed the action taken, and said: ‘It’s vital that we nip this in the bud.
‘These people are dangerous and the consequence isn’t necessarily those who can see them, it’s for those miles back when the traffic comes to an instant halt could well be faced with death or injury.’
He added: ‘Let people demonstrate in a safe way but not on our roads.’ Conservative Mr Philip Hollobone called the protesters ‘eco-maniacs’.
He supported the action being taken and said ‘there’s no greater supporter of the police than I, but I have been disturbed at how long it’s taken the police to remove some of these protesters, especially in the early protests. I thought it was already an offence to block the Queen’s highway?’
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: ‘I congratulate the Government on finally taking action against these hypocritical highway hoodlums who have caused misery to many people.’
Mr Malthouse called the protest ‘selfish’ and said ‘the great sadness is that it diminishes, not enhances the enthusiasm for the cause for which these protesters seemingly want to promote but are, by their actions, damaging.’
A protester from Insulate Britain talks to a journalist from Guido with a microphone during the demonstration outside the Home Office today
One man brags about being arrested four times for ‘mourning for life on Earth’ while another details his name and and job on his placard
Conservative MP Lee Anderson called for the police to have a zero-tolerance approach towards the protesters who have been blocking sections of the M25.
He told MPs: ‘This injunction is welcomed news. Does the minister agree with me the police should now 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?’
Members on both sides of the House erupted in laughter. Mr Malthouse replied: ‘As it is usually the case in his forthright and direct manner, he puts his finger on the button.
‘We are now seeing extremely swift action, police arriving on the scene within minutes. He will understand that it is tough for them to patrol the entirety of the motorway network and be there as fast as they can.
‘I know in Kent, protesters were intercepted before they even got on the carriageway. But where do we want our police officers? It is in our neighbourhood, on our streets fighting crime?
‘We don’t want them patrolling the network, looking for these people and hopefully, this injunction will mean they can go back to do the job we expect of them.’
Activists were filmed making a death-defying dash on to the M25 just before 8am yesterday near Cobham in Surrey. Drivers were forced to slam on their brakes.
Some of the hardliners have been arrested five times over the past ten days, only to be released to return to block the motorway again.
Dr Bing Jones, who has been detained by police four times, told the BBC: ‘I accept that I put my life at risk. I don’t really accept that we have put other lives at risk.
‘The disruption weighs heavily on me but it is necessary. Insulating houses is by far the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions within the UK and it could bring millions of people out of fuel poverty.’
Senior police officers said the risk to motorists was now ‘very high’ – yet the four forces dealing with the protests have charged only one activist.
Surrey Police said it first received a call at 7.57am and arrived on the scene in three minutes. The protesters held up banners saying ‘Insulate Britain’ and poured blue paint on the road before they were dragged away.
By 8.17am both carriageways were cleared and open, with 38 arrests being made.
Among those involved was Sue Parfitt, 79, a retired vicar who had already been arrested at least once.
An Insulate Britain spokesman said the group was aware of only one activist in custody – possibly over a breach of bail – and said no charges had been brought.
They said the rise in gas prices ‘increased the urgency’ for change and the group would end its campaign in exchange for a ‘meaningful commitment’ to its demands for improved insulation in UK homes.
Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman of Surrey Police said the group had become ‘reckless’ and ‘a change from what we have seen recently’.
While it is not possible to remand people in custody for obstructing the highway, he said the force was willing to ‘use any kind of option to prevent crime happening’.
Other activists have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, public nuisance and causing danger to road users.
‘If we can find ways in the existing legal framework to prevent people coming back and repeatedly offending, we will absolutely use it, that is our aim, but there are some constraints,’ Mr Westerman added.
‘But we are looking at all of our options, and there may be some other things in the coming days and weeks that we are able to do that helps us in our in achieving our objectives.’
His colleague Chief Inspector Mike Hodder added that the ‘risk is very high when you are messing around on a motorway’.
A spokesman for the Met Police said: ‘Those arrested have been released under investigation whilst the crime team fully investigate all lines of inquiry.’
A Surrey Police spokesman confirmed no one had been charged over the protests.
Hertfordshire Police said it had made no charges but added 32 people had been issued with community protection notices, which can lead to fines if not breached.
Kent Police said Alexander Rodger, 31, from Brighton, had been charged with criminal damage.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: ‘Offences committed at a protest are often summary only and if the police have sufficient evidence they can charge those themselves without the need to come to us.’
The activists are treated individually and the offences for which each can be held are relatively minor and in most cases do not carry a custodial sentence.
This means that – even if they are charged – they will not be remanded in custody.
Ringleader of Insulate Britain’s M25 eco mob STORMS off GMB after clash with Susanna Reid and admitting he’s failed to insulate his OWN home
This is the moment an irate eco-warrior storms off national television after being challenged on his group’s disruptive M25 protests.
The electrician, whose eco-mob are demanding the Government pay to insulate social housing, was irked after being called out on claims his own home is not properly insulated.
He was also asked if he was worried about members of the group potentially being struck by a car while protesting on the M25 – to which he replied ‘it’s terrible isn’t it’.
But as the debate raged Norton became visibly frustrated, before eventually standing up and walking off the set.
As he left, Madeley said: ‘Bye,’ before going on to mock Norton’s comparison of the group’s support to that of Winston Churchill.
Insulate Britain ringleader Liam Norton walked off Good Morning Britain mid-debate after a fiery clash with presenters Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley.
The electrician, whose eco-mob are demanding the Government pay to insulate social housing, was irked after he was called out on claims his own home is not properly insulated
Eco-warrior Liam Norton’s south-west London home is single-glazed, has no cavity wall insulation and uses gas central heating, reports the Sun
Norton, an electrician, is one of the leading figures in Insulate Britain – an
The group have infuriated motorists by blocking the M25 on five occasions in a bid to put pressure on the Government to pay for all social housing to be fully insulated.
However it was revealed last week that Norton’s own property is not insulated.
Norton’s property is owned by a housing association – and would be the sort of property he is campaigning to improve.
But asked why he had not insulated the property himself, he said: ‘Whether or not my home is insulated doesn’t change the fact that millions of people’s homes are not insulated.’
His response sparked a bemused Susannah Reid, to ask: ‘So you are saying you would risk your life, your life, for Insulate Britain, but you aren’t going to insulate your own home?’
But Norton replied: ‘What we are talking about is the future of our country. Our country is going to be destroyed if we don’t get this sorted out.’
Asked again why he had not insulated his home. He replied: ‘You know insulation costs thousands, tens of thousands.’
Asked if he could not afford this, Norton said: ‘No, what I’m saying is millions of people around the country cannot afford to do it.’
We WILL use jail to end this motorway chaos: The protesters have broken the law and alienated the public, the Government will be giving police powers to stop such guerrilla tactics, say PRITI PATEL and GRANT SHAPPS
But the Insulate Britain activists who have brought large sections of the M25 to a standstill in recent weeks have achieved the precise opposite.
They 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, particularly as we all strive so hard to rebuild after 18 months of the pandemic.
Insulate Britain activists 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, writes PRITI PATEL (pictured)
Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all, writes GRANT SHAPPS (pictured)
Transport is so crucial to that recovery. With every day that passes, our roads and railways are helping more businesses to grow, and more people to find jobs.
Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all.
As one van driver caught up in the chaos told a protester: ‘You are making people hate you.’
The police have our full support to take decisive action and we’re working with National Highways to take legal action against the protesters to ensure they cannot keep disrupting and endangering people’s lives in this way.
We are giving them 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.
People will continue to be able to make their voices heard without disrupting the lives of others. Even before the most recent demonstrations, the Metropolitan Police said that the actions of Extinction Rebellion – of which Insulate Britain is an offshoot – had cost the UK taxpayer a staggering £50million.
The events of recent weeks – including the cleaning of blue paint which protesters pointlessly poured on to the road – will add to that already significant drain on public funds.
It is also ironic that many of the cars that have been caught up in the queues and congestion around the M25 are electric, with zero carbon emissions.
There are now over half a million such cars in the UK, benefitting from one of the largest rapid charging networks in Europe.
Police arrive on the scene as protesters from the Insulate Britain pressure group block a roundabout near Stansted Airport last week
While Insulate Britain inflicts misery in its campaign of gesture politics, this government is getting on with the job of decarbonising our transport system by 2050.
Thousands of new charge points will encourage motorists to go electric in the coming decade as we phase out diesel and petrol. It is changes like this that make the difference, not posturing by a tiny minority who are arrogant enough to believe only they care about climate change.
We all agree that climate change must be tackled. But this sort of behaviour achieves nothing.
It puts drivers at risk – and idling cars actually increase pollution. While this group of eco-warriors parade for the cameras, we are getting on with the job of delivering our ambitious targets.
We will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish demonstrators to cause massive and dangerous disruption to the lives of the hard-working majority.
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