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More than 100 Insulate Britain activists have been served with an injunction against road-blocking protests, the High Court heard today as members of the group held banners and demonstrated outside the building.

Protesters from the Extinction Rebellion offshoot have blocked major roads including the M25, M1 and M4 over the past three weeks, and three court injunctions have now been put in place but demonstrations have continued.

The original injunction, granted to National Highways on September 21, banned the demonstrations on the M25 and was followed by a second approved on September 24 which restricted protests around the Port of Dover.

A third injunction was granted on Saturday, banning them from obstructing traffic and access to motorways and major A roads in and around London – but this has not stopped the protests which again caused chaos yesterday.

The group, which is calling on the Government to insulate all homes across the UK by 2030 to help cut carbon emissions, has mostly focused on blockading the M25 but has sat down on other London roads since last Friday.

They have not yet carried out any road protests today, but their campaign of roadblocks caused fresh misery yesterday, as activists targeted three major sites of the Blackwall Tunnel, Wandsworth Bridge and Hanger Lane.  

Another 38 protesters were arrested yesterday, and it comes as GB News presenter Patrick Christys said Insulate Britain were ‘a mentally unwell group of people who should be classed as a banned terror organisation’.

He quoted the Crown Prosecution Service’s definition of terrorism, which says: ‘Terrorism is the use or threat of action, both in and outside of the UK, designed to influence any international government organisation or to intimidate the public. It must also be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.’

He said: ‘So Insulate Britain are terrorists then, in my opinion. The police need to step in, not just to uphold basic law and order and make sure that the ordinary man and woman on the street doesn’t have their day massively disrupted, but actually I would argue to save Insulate Britain. I’m amazed none of them have been seriously hurt.’

Insulate Britain activist Tim Gough stands in front of fellow demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London today

Insulate Britain activist Tim Gough stands in front of fellow demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London today

Insulate Britain activist Tim Gough stands in front of fellow demonstrators outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London today

Members of Insulate Britain stand outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning before a hearing over the injunction

Members of Insulate Britain stand outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning before a hearing over the injunction

Members of Insulate Britain stand outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning before a hearing over the injunction

Tim Gough, spokesman for Insulate Britain, stands outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London before today's hearing

Tim Gough, spokesman for Insulate Britain, stands outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London before today's hearing

Tim Gough, spokesman for Insulate Britain, stands outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London before today’s hearing

In the first hearing open to journalists over the injunctions, David Elvin QC, representing National Highways, said that the agency wished to adjourn today’s hearing so all three injunctions could be discussed together.

‘These orders all seek to restrict various forms of disruption and nuisance of the strategic highways network,’ he told the High Court in London.

Protesters could face six months’ jail under law to keep Britain on the move 

Eco-fanatics will be hit with a new type of Asbo in a fresh attempt to bring their chaotic road protests to an end, Priti Patel will announce today.

The Home Secretary will reveal plans for measures to make it an offence to repeatedly obstruct roads or cause other delays.

The Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders – dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’ – are intended to be quicker to enforce than the Government’s current approach, which has been based on High Court injunctions.

In a separate move, Miss Patel will tell the Conservative Party conference that a specific new offence will be created to deal with protests by Extinction Rebellion and its offshoot Insulate Britain. It will be made a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’, including major roads, railways, seaports, power stations and newspaper printing presses.

The new crime will carry up to six months’ imprisonment and will be dealt with at magistrates’ courts only – after sympathetic juries acquitted a series of XR activists in the Crown courts. It will give police new options when arresting offenders who block motorways or other sites, and make it more likely that protesters will face jail.

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Mr Elvin said 111 demonstrators had been served with an injunction either in person or through alternative forms of service.

The case was adjourned until next Tuesday for a hearing expected to last two to three hours – where members of Insulate Britain may be able to make legal arguments.

Mr Justice Lavender said: ‘I am prepared to adjourn these two matters for a week so that they can be dealt with at the same time.’

Speaking outside the High Court, Insulate Britain spokesman Liam Norton said today: ‘Insulate Britain wishes to profoundly apologise for the disruption caused over the past three weeks. We cannot imagine undertaking such acts in normal circumstances. But we believe that the reality of our situation has to be faced. 

‘The collapse of the climate is happening around us. We face economic chaos and the breakdown of law and order in a matter of years. We will lose our incomes, pensions, and savings while passing on an unwanted legacy to our children. They will be rightly furious. Around the world thousands of millions of people will lose their lives through slaughter and starvation as society collapses.’

He added: ‘Here in front of the Royal Courts of Justice, we plead with our government to demonstrate leadership. We ask the Prime Minister to make the statement the country wants to hear – that our government will live up to its responsibilities to protect us, to defend law and order. That our government will take the lead needed to insulate and retrofit our homes.

‘That it will ‘get on with the job’ so families can feed their children and keep their homes warm. So we can be secure in the knowledge that our government did everything it could to protect and defend our country. 

‘As soon as we have a meaningful statement we can trust, we will call off the campaign. That is all we ask.

‘But, if our government believes that our acts are outrageous and illegal, that there is no right of necessity to cause disruption, to prevent the far greater destruction of our economy and way of life, then it has a duty to act decisively.

‘Take us to court, charge us, and put us in prison. We are more fearful of the loss of our country than we are of the courts. Throw injunctions at us, but we are going nowhere, there is nowhere to go.’ 

Activists from Insulate Britain caused chaos on the A40 and North Circular at Hanger Lane in West London yesterday

Activists from Insulate Britain caused chaos on the A40 and North Circular at Hanger Lane in West London yesterday

Activists from Insulate Britain caused chaos on the A40 and North Circular at Hanger Lane in West London yesterday

GB News presenter Patrick Christys has said that Insulate Britain ‘should be classed as a banned terror organisation’

The approximately ten-minute court hearing this morning came after Boris Johnson branded protesters who have blocked major UK roads as ‘irresponsible crusties’. 

Insulate Britain: Timeline of chaos across London

September 13 – 78 Insulate Britain protesters are arrested after blocking junctions 3, 6, 14, 20 and 31 of the M25

September 15 – More than 50 protesters are arrested after targeting junctions 1, 8, 9 and 23 of the M25.

September 17 – 48 protesters arrested after targeting junctions 3, 9 and 28 of the M25, as well as the M3

September 20 – 29 protesters are arrested after blocking the M25 at junctions 4 and 18, as well as the A1

September 21 – Protesters risk death by running into moving traffic to block the carriageway near Junction 10. Some 38 arrests are made. National Highways obtains an injunction against further protests on the M25

September 22 – Protesters burn copies of the injunction outside the Home Office, blocking the road outside the ministry. No arrests are made

September 24 – 39 protesters are arrested after blocking roads at three locations in Dover. They are all released under investigation. National Highways obtains a second injunction covering Dover.

September 27 – 53 protesters are arrested for blocking a slip road at Junction 14 of the M25. They are all released under investigation.

September 28 – National Highways says it is taking ‘legal advice’ over how to enforce its injunction

September 29 – 27 protesters are arrested for blocking a roundabout at Junction 3 of the M25 on two occasions

September 30 – Protesters return to junction 30 at Thurrock in Essex, and nine are arrested

October 1: The group block the M4 at junction 3, the M1 at junction 1 and M25 at junction 25. Some 39 arrests

October 2: Third injunction bans them from obstructing traffic and access to motorways and major A roads in and around London 

October 4: 38 arrests after protesters block three major roads in London – the Blackwall Tunnel, Wandsworth Bridge and A40 and North Circular at Hanger Lane. 

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The Prime Minister said the Insulate Britain protesters, who have blocked highways across the South East in recent weeks, have been ‘doing considerable damage to the economy’.

His comments come ahead of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference today, in which she will lay out new measures to deal with demonstrators deemed to be disruptive.

This morning, Mr Johnson told LBC: ‘There are some people who call those individuals legitimate protesters.

‘They are not. I think they are irresponsible crusties who are basically trying to stop people going about their day’s work and doing considerable damage to the economy.

‘That is why we have taken the powers and why Priti Patel is doing the right thing to bring in powers so they can get six months or an unlimited fine.’

The Home Secretary is expected to announce plans today for eco-fanatics to be hit with a new type of Asbo in a fresh attempt to bring their chaotic road protests to an end.

She will reveal plans for measures to make it an offence to repeatedly obstruct roads or cause other delays.

The Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders – dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’ – are intended to be quicker to enforce than the Government’s current approach, which has been based on High Court injunctions.

In a separate move, Miss Patel will tell the Conservative Party conference that a specific new offence will be created to deal with protests by Extinction Rebellion and its offshoot Insulate Britain. 

It will be made a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’, including major roads, railways, seaports, power stations and newspaper printing presses.

The new crime will carry up to six months’ imprisonment and will be dealt with at magistrates’ courts only – after sympathetic juries acquitted a series of XR activists in the Crown courts.

It will give police new options when arresting offenders who block motorways or other sites, and make it more likely that protesters will face jail.

A Conservative source said police would ‘now have no excuse’ for not arresting and charging Insulate Britain troublemakers. 

However, the new powers will take months to come into force.

‘Freedom to protest is a fundamental right our party will forever fight to uphold,’ Miss Patel will tell the conference in Manchester later today. ‘But it must be within the law. 

‘Measures already going through Parliament will ensure these criminals can be brought to justice for the disruption they are causing. But we are going further to close down the legal loopholes exploited by these offenders. 

Queuing traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel approach yesterday after activists from Insulate Britain blocked part of the tunnel

Queuing traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel approach yesterday after activists from Insulate Britain blocked part of the tunnel

Queuing traffic on the Blackwall Tunnel approach yesterday after activists from Insulate Britain blocked part of the tunnel

Police make arrests yesterday after Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, block Wandsworth Bridge in London

Police make arrests yesterday after Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, block Wandsworth Bridge in London

Police make arrests yesterday after Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, block Wandsworth Bridge in London

‘I will increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway; criminalise interference with key infrastructures such as roads, railways and our free press; and give the police and courts new powers to deal with the small minority of offender’s intent on travelling around the country, causing disruption and misery across our communities.’

ANALYSIS: Priti Patel’s new plans for Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders are ‘illiberal’

By ADAM WAGNER, human rights legal expert

This is a highly illiberal measure. Preventing people exercising their free-speech rights in advance because they are ‘disruptive’ is fraught with risk for a democratic society.

It is understandable that in the heat of the moment people want to ‘crackdown’ on disruptive protests, but protests are by definition disruptive. This law would, I assume, authorise the detention of a protester to prevent them attending a protest. That is illiberal.

This government is already attempting to pass laws which criminalise ‘noisy’ protests. Our law is already finally balanced to protect free-speech and ensure police have powers to prevent illegal conduct arising from protest. These new laws tip the balance in the wrong direction.

It is important, also, to remember that many of the protests which have been the most ‘disruptive’ in recent years have also been contrary to the government’s political positions, which means any attempts to restrict them should be met with even more suspicion.

Where this ends up is that police and courts will have to decide which protesters should be banned from protesting. Given all protests are disruptive, which will they prioritise?

No doubt the ones the public are clamouring against. But important causes have often been unpopular. That is why we have to keep a very careful balance between the right to free expression and the powers of law-enforcement.

Disruptive protest plays a key role in our democracy and should not be controlled by the police or the Home Secretary.

ADAM WAGNER is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London 

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Another new criminal offence of ‘disrupting a highway’ – announced earlier this week – will carry up to six months’ imprisonment. It will apply to motorways, A-roads and all types of local roads, a Conservative source said.

The Asbo-style orders, if breached, could carry up to two years’ imprisonment for contempt of court, it is understood.

Sources said it would be targeted at ‘a small number of prolific offenders who travel around the country, causing disruption and misery to others’.

They would be enforced on individuals with a history of disruption or where there is ‘intelligence suggesting they are likely to commit a criminal offence from attending particular protests’.

Crucially, police would be able to arrest individuals on the spot if they breached an order that had been imposed on them by a court. Anti-social behaviour orders, or Asbos, were introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998.

They were imposed on yobs whose behaviour ’caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress’. Breaching the civil orders carried up to five years’ imprisonment. They were repealed by the Tories in 2014.

All Miss Patel’s new measures will be introduced to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill next month. If approved by Parliament, they are expected to be in force by spring next year.

The moves come after weeks of protests which the police seemed powerless to stop. 

The activists have repeatedly defied an interim injunction, granted by the High Court last month, which prevented named protesters from blocking the M25. 

Ministers are now understood to be seeking a more wide-ranging injunction, which could serve as a stop-gap before the new powers are introduced. 

But human rights legal expert Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers in London, criticised the plans for Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders.

He said: ‘This is a highly illiberal measure. Preventing people exercising their free-speech rights in advance because they are ‘disruptive’ is fraught with risk for a democratic society.

‘It is understandable that in the heat of the moment people want to ‘crackdown’ on disruptive protests, but protests are by definition disruptive. This law would, I assume, authorise the detention of a protester to prevent them attending a protest. That is illiberal.

‘This government is already attempting to pass laws which criminalise ‘noisy’ protests. Our law is already finally balanced to protect free-speech and ensure police have powers to prevent illegal conduct arising from protest. These new laws tip the balance in the wrong direction.’

Source: Daily Mail UK

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