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Police intelligence suggests more Insulate Britain protests planned, court told

It came as seven activists said they are prepared to go to jail.

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Members of Insulate Britain outside the High Court in London (Elspeth Keep/PA)

Members of Insulate Britain outside the High Court in London (Elspeth Keep/PA)

Members of Insulate Britain outside the High Court in London (Elspeth Keep/PA)

Police intelligence suggests climate protesters are plotting further disruption in February 2022, the High Court has heard.

It came as seven members of Insulate Britain said they are prepared to go to jail for defying court orders banning protests in the wake of several days’ action during the autumn.

The seven defendants, who have a combined age of 428 and include a 79-year-old Anglican priest, admitted the allegations but said they were compelled to act to highlight Britain’s so-called “leaky homes”.

The breaches relate to an Insulate Britain protest on the M25, which led to tailbacks of 2.5 miles (4km), when activists blocked the carriageways and glued themselves to the road.

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Paul Sheeky, Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Stephen Pritchard, Steve Gower and Richard Ramsden outside the High Court (Elspeth Keep/PA)

Paul Sheeky, Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Stephen Pritchard, Steve Gower and Richard Ramsden outside the High Court (Elspeth Keep/PA)

PA

Paul Sheeky, Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Stephen Pritchard, Steve Gower and Richard Ramsden outside the High Court (Elspeth Keep/PA)

Myriam Stacey QC, for National Highways, told the Royal Courts of Justice there is also reason to believe there will be further disruption.

“Intelligence suggests they will resume in the spring of 2022,” she said.

“We asked for the source but we weren’t told. But it stems from the police.”

She added that “numerous” previous media statements issued by Insulate Britain signalled their intention to defy the injunctions against the group’s road blockades.

Ms Stacey said: “Insulate Britain appreciate the protests are in defiance of court orders, the breaches are deliberate and aimed at providing the protesters with the best possible platform … and the associated disruption was acknowledged but seen as a necessary corollary and proportionate to that goal.”

She added: “It is safe to infer that they intend to continue on the basis that the risks attached to breaking the court orders are worth the price of espousing the cause they feel so strongly about.”

The seven defendants are Ruth Jarman, 58, from Hook, Hampshire; Biff Whipster, 54, from Cantebury, Kent; Paul Sheeky, 46, from Warrington, Cheshire; Richard Ramsden, 75, from Halifax, West Yorkshire; Steve Gower, 54, from Gloucester; Stephen Pritchard, 62, from Radstock, Somerset; and the Rev Sue Parfitt, 79, from Bristol.

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Activists have previously glued themselves to the M25 and its slip roads (Robert J Foulger/PA)

Activists have previously glued themselves to the M25 and its slip roads (Robert J Foulger/PA)

PA

Activists have previously glued themselves to the M25 and its slip roads (Robert J Foulger/PA)

Speaking ahead of the sentencing hearing, Parfitt told the PA news agency: “It’s a pretty scary sort of experience.

“I feel deeply called to do this because I think it’s the only kind of action left to do in the dire (climate) emergency we are in.”

She said she would not go on hunger strike should she be sent to prison, as others have.

“It is extreme action that we have taken and we shall continue to take when we are out of prison, because what else can we do?” she said.

“At my age, what have I got to lose? I have everything to gain in the sense of doing what I believe to be God’s will – that gives me total contentment and peace of mind.”

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Police officers had been forced to remove Insulate Britain protesters (Ian West/PA)

Police officers had been forced to remove Insulate Britain protesters (Ian West/PA)

PA

Police officers had been forced to remove Insulate Britain protesters (Ian West/PA)

Fellow protester Pritchard, a property maintenance worker, said: “I’m obviously nervous.

“The expectation is that I and the other defendants will have a custodial sentence. So, I’m fully expecting to go to prison.”

He added: “There are some circumstances under which I would consider going on hunger strike.

“There’s not a lot to me, so I suspect it wouldn’t be a very long hunger strike.

“I would become seriously ill and die.

“But it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.”

An eighth defendant, Dr Diana Warner, 62, from Bristol, did not attend despite repeated attempts by her legal team to contact her.

A warrant was issued for her arrest, although the court heard she was at a disruption exercise in Yorkshire.

Dr Ben Buse, 36, is currently in prison, having been among nine protesters to be jailed last month for similar breaches.

His absence was put down to an administrative error at HMP Thameside.

Both Buse and Warner are expected to be dealt with on Wednesday.

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