First jury trial of Insulate Britain activists begins following M25 blockage |  UK News

First jury trial of Insulate Britain activists begins following M25 blockage | UK News

Four climate activists have been tried for allegedly blocking the M25, in the first of dozens of jury trials scheduled for supporters of the Insulate Britain campaign.

Daniel Shaw, 37, of Northampton, Karen Wildin, 58, of Leicester, Maria Lee, 69, of Northampton, and Victoria Lindsell, 67, of Rugby, appeared at London Crown Court, each charged two counts of public nuisance, which they deny.

They are accused of having taken part with others in demonstrations on September 13, 2021 at junction 14 of the motorway, near Heathrow, and on September 15, 2021 at junction 25, north of the capital.

Opening the prosecution case, David Matthew told jurors they were trying Shaw, Wildin, Lee and Lindsell “for what they did in connection with the activities of the Insulate Britain group”.

“What happened on that Monday morning, September 13 last year, was that shortly before 9 a.m., when traffic still included people on their way to work, this group of 14 people started their block, traffic started backing up behind them,” he said.

They remained in place when police arrived and it took officers almost three hours to remove them, Matthews told the court. “None of them walked away before they were arrested,” he said.

On the second occasion, roadwork took place around the junction, Matthews told the jury. “There was at least one ambulance in blocked traffic. A paramedic came forward and told the block to move. They moved and went down another roundabout. Traffic took the ramp and finally the ambulance was able to pass after a few minutes.

Along with the officers who attended each protest, Matthews said he intended to call a witness from National Highways, the agency which runs the M25 and motorways across England and Wales, which would say that on each of the two days that Insulate Britain took action, ‘something like 40,000 vehicles were affected’.

The four defendants are charged with the old common law offense of public nuisance, which has since been replaced by a new statutory offense of public nuisance, introduced by the Policing, Crime, Punishment and Courts Act 2022, adopted in April.

Judge Silas Reid told jurors that to convict the defendants, the prosecution must prove that they committed an act “not justified by law” which interfered with the rights of a significant number of members of the public “in exercise or enjoyment of rights”.

He said: ‘Members of the public have a general right, for the purposes of the tort of public nuisance, to free movement and movement’ on the motorways.

He told the jury to set aside their views on protests or climate activism, or on groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Insulate Britain or Just Stop Oil.

“Your job is to judge this case based solely on the evidence you hear in this trial,” Reid said. “This is not a lawsuit about climate change or fuel poverty, or about whether the actions of any of the organizations I mentioned should be applauded or condemned. This is of a lawsuit on public nuisance, and in particular on two incidents which occurred in September of last year.

Insulate Britain said the trial was the first of at least 51 of its supporters charged with public nuisance which are expected to take place over the next 13 months.

The trial continues.

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