UK-news

Priti Patel orders police to take ‘decisive action’ against Insulate Britain after M25 protest

Priti Patel last night ordered police to take ‘decisive action’ against ‘selfish’ eco-warrior protesters who blocked Britain’s busiest road twice in three days.

The Home Secretary described the ‘guerrilla tactics’ of Insulate Britain as ‘completely unacceptable’ after the group held traffic at four junctions of the busiest junctions of the M25 on Wednesday.

It was the second this week that the group, who are demanding Government action on home insulation, had blocked the busy motorway – which carries as many as 200,000 vehicles a day. 

Alongside taking aim at the eco-extremists, Ms Patel also ordered police to get tough on those involved in the disruptive campaign, after video emerged of officers appearing to facilitate Wednesday’s protest.

The video appears to show a Metropolitan Police officer waving through traffic to clear a backlog before protesters walk out into the empty junction and sit down.

Ms Patel said that the police had the Government’s full support, but warned: ‘They must uphold the law and take decisive action. This kind of disruption is dangerous and takes police away from communities where they are needed most.’  

She also took warned the Government would ‘not allow selfish protesters’ to disrupt the lives of Britons.

She said: ‘Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for legitimate groups to make their voices heard.

‘But this Government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.

‘The guerrilla tactics used by Insulate Britain detract from their cause and I know the public will agree that the scenes on the M25 this week were completely unacceptable.’ 

The Met Police last night told the Telegraph that the decision to facilitate the protest came after a ‘dynamic risk assessment’ to prevent the protesters injuring themselves by walking into fast-moving traffic. 

Alongside taking aim at protesters, Ms Patel also ordered police to get tough on those involved in the disruptive campaign, after video emerged of officers facilitating a protest

The Home Secretary described the 'guerrilla tactics' of Insulate Britain as 'completely unacceptable' after the group held traffic at four junctions of the busiest junctions of the M25 on Wednesday

The Home Secretary described the ‘guerrilla tactics’ of Insulate Britain as ‘completely unacceptable’ after the group held traffic at four junctions of the busiest junctions of the M25 on Wednesday

MONDAY: Protest group called insulate Britain stopped traffic Junction 3 of the M25, Swanley in Kent on Monday

Pictured yesterday: The same protesters are pictured on the M25

Left taken MONDAY, right WEDNESDAY. Circled are members of the Insulate Britain protest group that shut down motorways on Monday and yesterday, despite being arrested by police

It comes as members of the eco-group warned officers they would do it again after being released the first time.

They also vowed to hold a third protest ‘as soon as possible’ in more humiliation for soft-touch police.

Insulate Britain also revealed that officers have only bailed 17 of the 181 activists – many of whom have already been arrested on two occasions – meaning that they are free to try to block Britain’s busiest motorway again. 

In a statement the group, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion demanding Boris Johnson pays for all social housing to be fully insulated, said: ‘People from Insulate Britain involved in blocking the M25 on Wednesday and released from custody this morning told the police that they would repeat the protest as soon as possible. 

Do YOU know who these climate ‘anarchists’ are? 

‘In the early hours of this morning, 89 people were released from several different custody centres across South East England, despite informing officers of their intent to continue taking action until the government gets on with the job of insulating the nation’s leaky homes. 

‘The majority were released (yesterday) without bail conditions. Some were released despite having broken bail conditions imposed on Monday which prohibited their return to the highway. 

‘Before being released from custody (yesterday) the campaigners handed the police a clear personal statement of their intent to continue taking action until the government agrees to their demands. They were told by police that the statements would be held ‘on their files”.  

Among those who shut down the M25 at its busiest junctions twice in 48 hours despite being arrested were Cameron Ford, a 30-year-old carpenter, and climate activist and retired doctor Bing Jones. Other ringleaders included an organic farmer who compares himself to Mahatma Gandhi, a puppeteer, a vegan ‘business coach’ and a ‘rebel’ IT project manager.  

Police meanwhile have been accused of failing to enforce the law after it was revealed that eco-extremists arrested for shutting down the M25 during the Monday morning rush hour were simply set free without bail conditions and allowed to do the same 48 hours later as officers again ‘stood around for hours before doing anything’. 

One officer sparked outrage after she addressed a group of activists breaking the law by blocking the road and told them: ‘If you have got any questions at all just ask. And if any of you are in any discomfort or need anything just let me know and we will try and sort you out in a nice way’. 

There have 181 arrests in total – for offences including public nuisance, obstructing the highway and conspiracy to cause danger to road users – but that figure includes those held twice in three days.

Surrey Police said officers made 33 arrests at Junctions 8 and 10 for offences including public nuisance, obstructing the highway and conspiracy to cause danger to road users.

Of these arrests, 12 were released under investigation, while 21 were released on conditional bail. 

Jerry Westerman, Chief Superintendent with Surrey Police, the force that made the most arrests, appealed for witnesses who may have dashcam footage.

What police COULD have done to stop the activists 

Obstruction of a British road ‘without lawful authority or excuse’ is an offence under Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980.

Police arrested a large number of the Insulate Britain activists under this law, but no one has been charged.

There were also arrests for the common law offence of public nuisance, and conspiracy to cause danger to road users under section 22A of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

If police had been given the Crown Prosecution Service’s go ahead, they could have charged the activists with the obstruction offence and sent them to a magistrates’ court where they could be punished with a fine and up to six months in prison.

There would also be the option to arrest or charge them under an alternative law, such as obstructing emergency workers under the Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act 2006 – the maximum penalty for which is a £5,000 fine.

Officers were also criticised for taking up to four hours to arrest the protesters even though they were clearly breaking the law under the obstruction of a road offence.

He said: ‘I appreciate that these protests have caused considerable inconvenience and frustration for those caught up in the traffic delays and I can assure you that we are continuing to gather evidence and ensure that those who break the law are brought to justice.

‘I would like to thank all those motorists who got caught up in the delays, both yesterday and on Monday, while we dealt with the incident, for their co-operation and patience.

‘We are continuing to appeal to anyone who witnessed either incident or anyone with any dashcam footage to come forward as you may be able to help us progress our investigation.’

The Met meanwhile said officers arrested 14 people at Junction 25 for obstructing the public highway, following another 17 who were involved in the previous protest on Monday at Junction 14. 

The force identified three people they suspect were the organisers as a 55-year-old man at an address in Walworth, a 45-year-old woman at an address in Milton Keynes, and a 49-year-old man at a location in Torquay.

They were arrested for conspiracy to cause public nuisance over the first protest. 

Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: ‘It is our view that this behaviour is unsafe and irresponsible, creating risk for themselves, other road users and officers.’ 

Kent Police previously said officers arrested 21 people for obstructing the highway on Wednesday, and Hertfordshire Constabulary said it made 18 arrests.

The Met were asked whether there were any overlaps in arrest figures given by each force, but could not confirm.

Hertfordshire Police said 18 people were arrested for causing disruption on Wednesday – but confirmed they have already released under investigation and subject to community protection notice warnings. 

However Defence Secretary Ben Wallace yesterday told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that police should have acted ‘more swiftly’ to remove the assembled eco-mob who caused traffic chaos on one of Britain’s busiest motorways. 

He said: ‘I think that getting a swift resolution to those people sitting in the way of the M25 and not getting in the way of people, many people who are paid by the hour and don’t have sympathetic bosses. Why should they lose their livelihood because somebody wants to sit in the middle of the road?’       

Monday: Insulate Britain protesters took to the M25 as they caused traffic chaos for thousands of motorists

Wednesday: The same protester is pictured being detained by officers just two days later

FREE TO RETURN: Earlier this week a handful of climate zealots had boasted of being released after their arrest and despite demonstrating on Monday they were free to cause chaos for motorists again just two days later. Pictured: A man is pictured protesting on the M25 on Monday (left) and is arrested again on Wednesday (right) 

MONDAY: Dr Bing Jones pictured as part of the Insulate Britain protests on Monday

WEDNESDAY: He was detained by police again just two days later for blockading J23 of the M25

Climate activist and retired doctor Bing Jones was caught on camera on both Monday (left) and Wednesday (right) after he was arrested by police for blockading J23 of the M25

Among those protesting on both days was Cameron Ford, a 30-year-old carpenter (pictured on Monday)

WEDNESDAY - Mr Ford is again pictured protesting on Britain's busiest motorway

Among those protesting on both days was Cameron Ford, a 30-year-old carpenter (pictured left, on Monday) who obstructed Britain’s busiest motorway again on Wednesday (right)

A giggling protester laughs as he sits on the road at junction 3 of the M25 in Swanley, Kent, on Monday, before he is pictured again in a red jacket near a Dartford Crossing roundabout on Wednesday

Police restrain an angry motorist as protesters from Insulate Britain block a major roundabout near the Dartford crossing

A giggling protester laughs as he sits on the road at junction 3 of the M25 in Swanley, Kent, on Monday, before he is pictured again in a red jacket near a Dartford Crossing roundabout on Wednesday (right)

Pictured on Monday

Pictured on Wednesday

Earlier this week a handful of climate zealots had boasted of being released after their arrest and despite demonstrating on Monday they were free to cause chaos for motorists again later in the week. One protestor wore the same hat to separate incidents on Monday (left) and Wednesday (right)

One activist involved in Monday’s demo even boasted to Nick Ferrari on LBC that he had been released by police and not prevented from protesting on Wednesday, comparing the cause to that of Martin Luther King, the Suffragettes and Mahatma Gandhi.      

Furious Conservative MPs Ian Liddell-Grainger and Craig Mackinlay slammed police for ‘standing around for hours at a time before doing anything’ and urged officers to ‘use the powers available to them to clear this protest immediately’. Mr Liddell-Grainger backed ‘much tougher sentences’ for ‘arrogant and stuck-up’ climate anarchists who ’cause immense harm to people’s lives and livelihoods’. 

How can you complain to the police about their handling of the protests? 

If you want to complain about the police’s handling of the protests, you can contact each of the four forces involved this week by clicking on the links below:

Surrey Police – Chief Constable Gavin Stephens  

Complaints link: Click here

Email: [email protected]

Priti Patel orders police to take 'decisive action' against Insulate Britain after M25 protest

Metropolitan Police  Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick  

Complaints Link: Click here: 

Email: [email protected]

Priti Patel orders police to take 'decisive action' against Insulate Britain after M25 protest

Kent Police – Chief Constable Alan Pughsley

Complaints link: Click here

Email: [email protected]

Priti Patel orders police to take 'decisive action' against Insulate Britain after M25 protest

Hertfordshire Constabulary – Chief Constable Charlie Hall)

Complaints link: Click here

Email: [email protected]

Priti Patel orders police to take 'decisive action' against Insulate Britain after M25 protest

You can also complain directly to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog – click here 

‘They should have a criminal record and everybody should be made aware of the damage and misery they cause,’ Mr Liddell-Grainger raged. ‘Their whole plan, of sowing chaos to our lives in this way, just won’t fly with the British public because they don’t kowtow to bullies. 

‘They cannot be allowed to hijack the conversation by threatening to destroy livelihoods if they don’t get their own way. If they have a grievance, they should take it up with their Member of Parliament in the lawful, peaceful way. They can’t just throw a tantrum and sit in the road at whatever cost to other people. If they can’t be adults in this conversation, they shouldn’t be in the conversation at all.’   

On Monday and Wednesday, the same protesters freely blocked motorway junctions and roundabouts across the M25, A3 and Dartford Crossing – and remained free to do so before being arrested, hours later.  

In total, more than 165 arrests have been made by Kent, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Met police forces over the two days of action – but every activist appears to have been fallowed to walk free from custody and return to the road.   

A group on Twitter called UK Police Pensioners United accused officers of ‘aiding and abetting’ the M25 protest by ‘slow reactions and decisions’. It said: ‘None of the M25 forces covered themselves in glory.’ 

Asked why police had failed to act sooner, the Home Office bizarrely said the chaos was a ‘cross-government’ matter for both itself and the Department of Business and Energy. 

The climate zealots yesterday boasted of being released after their arrest and despite demonstrating on Monday they were free to cause chaos for motorists again yesterday. 

Farmer Roger Hallam, 55, who helped found Extinction Rebellion, before leaving to joining protest organiser Insulate Britain, wants to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world’, starting with Britain, and believes those running society ‘should have a bullet through their heads’. 

There have been allegations of a ‘cult-like’ following for the Welshman who compares his tactics to those of heroic activists Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He is said to have been inspired to take up climate activism after his farm in Wales went bust due to bad weather.  

Ironically, Mr Hallam owns a farmhouse which was described as ‘poorly insulated’ in an official energy performance certificate. His 2,000 sq ft farmhouse in Carmarthen, South Wales, was given the lowest possible energy rating on the certificate. It is unclear if Mr Hallam has taken steps to improve the rating since it was issued six years ago. 

Asked about the certificate last night, a spokesman for the group said: ‘This is the point – UK homes are the leakiest in Europe, with many millions of families being unable to afford the advice and help needed to insulate the building they live in.’

Joining Mr Hallam was David McKenny, 38, from Cambridge, who was one of six XR protesters who ‘doorstepped’ TV wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough, 95, at the height of pandemic after he criticised their tactics. The group posted a letter through Sir David’s door as he isolated due to his age last year. 

Vegan business coach Zoe Cohen, 51, from Lymm, Cheshire, said she joined yesterday’s action to demand ‘real action’ from ministers. She was involved in XR’s takeover of central London last month. 

Ms Cohen said then: ‘We are more scared of the reality of what this system is doing to ending life on Earth and ending our future and our children’s future than we are of spending a night in a cell.’ She describes herself as a ‘carbon literate coach’ and ‘XR catalyser’ on social media. 

Janine Eagling, 60, from London, helped to block the M25 and A13 junction yesterday. She has been involved with XR since 2018, helping to form blockades across Waltham Forest. 

The IT project manager describes herself online as a ‘world citizen’ and ‘rebel’ as well as a cyclist, walker and gardener. She has overseen IT projects at top universities and was part of a campaign to improve safety for cyclists in the capital. 

Liam Norton, 36, a London electrician who helped organise the protest, said he was ‘shocked at the lack of significant action from our Government’. 

He became involved in climate activism in 2018 when he helped blockade five bridges in the capital and went on to join XR’s ‘actions team’, which is responsible for planning civil disobedience. He was convicted over blocking printing presses last year. 

He delayed court proceedings by gluing himself to a table. It took three hours for police to remove him and the stunt is thought to have cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds.

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘The government is not looking after their citizens. We are. 

‘We’ve got a plan to insulate Britain that gives you the best value for money in terms of reducing emissions. Hundreds of thousands of meaningful jobs will be created.’

Another protester, Steve Gower, 54, from Gloucester, is unemployed but describes himself as a volunteer advocate for the homeless and is an active Unite union campaigner. 

Last summer Gower was ordered to pay £267 by a magistrate after he dropped a cigarette in the street while visiting a Jobcentre. He said that the fine spiralled because he couldn’t afford the reduced fine of £75 and was told there was no opportunity to pay in instalments.  

He was joined at the M25 road blockage by Eli Rose, 26, who spent 16 days in a tree last September to protest the HS2 rail link. 

Ms Rose lived in the tree in Parliament Square because she ‘cannot bear’ knowing her potential future children will be born ‘into a world where they will have to battle through food shortages and drought.’  

It comes as officers took more than two-and-a-half hours to clear off climate protesters who were obstructing Britain’s busiest motorway yesterday in videos that sparked fury online.

In one clip, a female officer politely tells activists: ‘If any of you have any questions, or are in any discomfort or need anything, just let us know’ – while stricken motorists couldn’t get to work, hospitals and appointments.

Another video showed an officer standing with his hands in his pockets on his own and being met with silence after asking the demonstrators which of them had organised Wednesday’s protest. 

He then told them, ‘I’m going to have to ask you to move’ before awkwardly leaving. 

Meanwhile, police had to restrain incensed truck drivers who desperately tried to move eco-warriors who had glued their hands to the road. 

Chief Superintendent Richard Liversidge, of Herts Police, said: ‘Police received calls alerting us to a protest near junction 1 (South Mimms) of the A1M shortly after 8am on Wednesday. Patrolling officers were at the scene by 8.08am and were faced with a challenging situation in which protestors had blocked the carriageway and glued themselves to the tarmac. 

Mastermind: Organic farmer and activist Roger Hallam, 55, who helped found Extinction Rebellion

Mastermind: Organic farmer and activist Roger Hallam, 55, who helped found Extinction Rebellion

Steve Gower, 54, pictured in a 'Team Corbyn' T-shirt from Gloucester, is one of the ringleaders of yesterday's protests

Steve Gower, 54, pictured in a ‘Team Corbyn’ T-shirt from Gloucester, is one of the ringleaders of yesterday’s protests

Liam Norton

Zoe Cohen

Liam Norton (left), 36, an electrician; and Zoe Cohen (right), 51, a self-employed mother, are both part of Insulate Britain

Video shared on Twitter showed one police officer arriving at the sit-down on his own and awkwardly being met with silence after asking the demonstrators which of them organised Wednesday's protest

Video shared on Twitter showed one police officer arriving at the sit-down on his own and awkwardly being met with silence after asking the demonstrators which of them organised Wednesday’s protest

Motorists attempt to move activists as protesters from Insulate Britain block a roundabout near the Dartford crossing

Motorists attempt to move activists as protesters from Insulate Britain block a roundabout near the Dartford crossing

Police attempt to remove a protestor who had glued her hand to the road on the M25 on Wednesday

Police attempt to remove a protestor who had glued her hand to the road on the M25 on Wednesday

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

‘Tasked with ensuring the safety of the wider public and those in the carriageway, they worked quickly to minimise disruption to motorists on the local and wider road network. Unavoidably, due to this group’s actions, it took time to safely de-bond the protestors from the tarmac as well as ensure that the roads could be safely re-opened.

‘Policing protests is complex, in part due to the operating environment, the number of people involved and the need for us to deploy specialist resources to resolve and manage the situation.

‘There are clear, national standards regarding the policing of a protest which our officers were following. The powers we have are created by Parliament, and we use them fairly and proportionately.

‘Comment has been made about the approach taken by my officers, and I would like to remind people that what they are seeing is a very short clip, depicting an officer engaging with the group and informing them that if they did not move off the road, they were going to be arrested, in line with standard procedure.

‘This resulted in 18 arrests being made yesterday and a full investigation is underway. We understand the frustration regarding the traffic delays experienced but would ask that people understand that we did – and are doing – everything in our power to deal with the situation.’

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion offshoot protest group halted traffic near Junction 23 at South Mimms from 8am while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between Junction 10 and Junction 8.

A 50-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following a crash at Junction 9 involving multiple vehicles. In a statement, Surrey Police said the investigation is ongoing and that ‘it is too early to know’ if the crash was caused by the protest. Traffic monitor Inrix said at around 2pm that there was a six-mile traffic queue on the M25 following the accident. 

A third group glued their hands to the road on Junction 1b near the Dartford Crossing. Demos also took place at Junction 25 on the M25, the A10 in Hertfordshire and Junction 10 of the A3 in Surrey. By around 9.30am, the group had blocked traffic in five locations.  

Queues of traffic on the M25 banking up to junction 22 caused by the climate change demos

Queues of traffic on the M25 banking up to junction 22 caused by the climate change demos

Police arrest a climate change demonstrator blocking the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

Police arrest a climate change demonstrator blocking the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

Police attempt to remove a protestors who have glued their hands to the M25

Police attempt to remove a protestors who have glued their hands to the M25

Eighteen demonstrators from Insulate Britain, an Extincion Rebellion offshoot, halted traffic near J23 at South Mimms while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between J9 at Leatherhead and J8 at Reigate

Eighteen demonstrators from Insulate Britain, an Extincion Rebellion offshoot, halted traffic near J23 at South Mimms while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between J9 at Leatherhead and J8 at Reigate

Traffic builds up as emergency services attend a serious road crash anti-clockwise on the M25 just before junction 9

Traffic builds up as emergency services attend a serious road crash anti-clockwise on the M25 just before junction 9

There has been an accident at Junction 10 this morning, though it is unclear if this was caused by the demos

There has been an accident at Junction 10 this morning, though it is unclear if this was caused by the demos

Eighteen protesters from Insulate Britain, an Extinction Rebellion offshoot, halted traffic near Junction 23 at South Mimms while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between Junction 10 and Junction 8. There has been a road traffic collision at Junction 9 this morning involving multiple vehicles, with police, fire service and ambulances currently on the scene. A third group blocked Junction 1b near the Dartford Crossing and glued their hands to the road. Demonstrations were also taking place at Junction 25 on the M25, the A10 in Hertfordshire and Junction 10 of the A3 in Surrey. At around 9.30am, the group had blocked traffic in five locations

Eighteen protesters from Insulate Britain, an Extinction Rebellion offshoot, halted traffic near Junction 23 at South Mimms while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between Junction 10 and Junction 8. There has been a road traffic collision at Junction 9 this morning involving multiple vehicles, with police, fire service and ambulances currently on the scene. A third group blocked Junction 1b near the Dartford Crossing and glued their hands to the road. Demonstrations were also taking place at Junction 25 on the M25, the A10 in Hertfordshire and Junction 10 of the A3 in Surrey. At around 9.30am, the group had blocked traffic in five locations

Police arrest a protestor from the group Insulate Britain after removing him from the M25

Police arrest a protestor from the group Insulate Britain after removing him from the M25

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

More than 80 climate anarchists set up roadblocks on the M25 during rush hour Wednesday for the second time this week in an apparent bid to force action to reverse climate change and save the planet

More than 80 climate anarchists set up roadblocks on the M25 during rush hour Wednesday for the second time this week in an apparent bid to force action to reverse climate change and save the planet

Traffic is slow and matrix signs warn of pedestrians in the road on the M25 as protesters blockade the M25

Traffic is slow and matrix signs warn of pedestrians in the road on the M25 as protesters blockade the M25

Heavy traffic on the M25 near a serious road crash as protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25

Heavy traffic on the M25 near a serious road crash as protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25

Insulate Britain, an Extinction Rebellion offshoot, is demanding government action on home insulation

Insulate Britain, an Extinction Rebellion offshoot, is demanding government action on home insulation

M25 junctions targeted by eco-mob this week

The junctions targeted by climate demonstrators this week were:

  • Junction 23 at South Mimms;
  • Main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between Junction 9 and Junction 8;
  • Junction 1b near the Dartford crossing;
  • Junction 25 on the M25;
  • A10 in Hertfordshire;
  • Junction 10 of the A3 in Surrey.

The junctions targeted by the eco-mob on Monday were:

  • Junction 3 at Swanley, Kent;
  • Junction 6 at Godstone, Surrey;
  • Junction 14 at Heathrow Airport;
  • Junction 20 at Kings Langley in Hertfordshire;
  • Junction 31, the Purfleet Interchange in Essex;

 

Mr Mackinlay told MailOnline: ‘The M25 is one of the busiest roads in the country and a key artery powering the economy of London and the South East. It is little wonder that this new group, ‘Insulate Britain’ have chosen it for their pathetic protest. 

‘Putting aside the fact that the Government has and in allocating more grant funding for the measures they are campaigning for than ever before is obviously lost on them. As a splinter group of other organisations with Marxist overtones the true nature of their protest is obvious. 

‘The police must use the powers available to them to clear this protest immediately and the courts should use their powers to grant compensation to the public and businesses affected, taking protestors to bankruptcy as necessary.’ 

MP Andrew Bridgen slammed the ‘extremely irresponsible’ demonstrators, saying: ‘They are putting people’s livelihoods and indeed lives at risk through their reckless behaviour. They don’t actually care about what’s good for the general public and they are little more than anarchists.’

James Gray added: ‘It’s a scandal and bad manners. I have long struggled for people’s rights to protest peacefully, but they must not deny the freedoms of other people. If activists stop people on the M25 from getting into work or prevent journalists from going to their offices, then they are disrupting the nation. That is wrong, and they should not be allowed to get away with that.’

Protesters held signs which said ‘sorry for the disruption’ as they clashed with drivers stuck in the queue. One motorist told LBC: ‘They are working against themselves’, while others screamed abuse telling the activists ‘we’ll lose our jobs’. One could be heard calling them ‘f**king scumbags’. 

Insulate Britain, which is demanding government action on home insulation, tweeted: ‘#InsulateBritain are back. @BorisJohnson can you hear us yet?’   

Victims of the eco-mob: Grandmother trying to get to her daughter who is in labour, pharmacist unable to open pharmacy and nurse taking her mother to hospital

It took police two-and-a-half hours to clear the climate protesters from the four locations yesterday as an eco-mob caused chaos by holding up rush hour traffic on the M25, A3 and Dartford Crossing. 

One woman revealed how she was on the way to see her daughter, who had just gone into labour, when she was caught up in the protest. 

LBC reporter Rachael Venables said the woman was stuck while on the way to pick up her grandchild and take her to the hospital. 

Another woman took to Twitter to express her frustration, writing: ‘Thank you #InsulateBritain . Now I can’t get to work to teach the young people you say you’re protecting.’

Also among those held up shortly after 8am was an NHS worker trying to get home after a night shift.

Jay told LBC: ‘I’m exhausted. I’m not happy with the situation.’

Pharmacist Graham Weidle said: ‘I need to open a pharmacy in Soho. We all support climate change, we all support sustainability and we all support a more regenerative way of life. But this doesn’t help.’

One motorist on Twitter said his nurse wife was trying to get her elderly mother to an urgent hospital appointment but was being held up by ‘these muppets’.

An angry cafe owner meanwhile turned down cash from members of the group after they had a whip round.

The man claimed he had lost business because of Insulate Britain, prompting each protester to give him £10.

However, the furious owner refused to take the cash, leading to a row just off the busy motorway.

He said: ‘You can’t have a whip round for me. What about the other thousands of people that are on the motorway? You’ve destroyed all their businesses.’ 

Another frustrated driver said: ‘Can this protest on the M25 just not?? Both days we have travelled and are traveling and they do it both those days.’

While a male driver said: ‘You know the people stuck on the M25 due to protests. I’m one of them. Have just had my most public ‘toilet’ ever, but took a standing ovation from the traffic jam and the rubber neckers!’ 

 

However, president of motoring insurance group AA, Edmund King, said that during the last Insulate Britain blockade, a thermal insulation engineer was prevented from going to work after being stuck in the traffic queue.

On Wednesday he said: ‘Whilst most people understand the need to take action on climate change, these motorway blockade tactics are just backfiring as they are alienating the working public stuck in this chaos and subsequently pumping out more emissions.

‘It is somewhat ironic that thermal insulation engineers trying to insulate Britain were stuck in the congestion caused by Insulate Britain. Essential deliveries, emergency services, people missing hospital and business appointments are all hit by these blockades. Hopefully the police will take immediate action to unblock the arteries of Britain.’ 

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘We are currently dealing with an incident near Junction 1 of the A1M southbound. Officers are at the scene. The road has been closed and as a result there is some traffic congestion. Motorists are asked to please avoid the area where possible.’

In a statement, an Insulate Britain spokesman said: ‘The world is burning and burning, each year worse than the last. They are disrupting not just today or this week but the next hundred thousand years – for ever. 

‘This country is facing the greatest crisis ever and we are told to plant trees and do the recycling. We can take the lies no longer. We are not stupid. We are not children. We will no longer tolerate this dishonesty. We demand credible action now.

‘Proper jobs for hundreds of thousands of people to start the first real step – to insulate all the homes of this country – which pound for pound gives us the biggest reduction in carbon emissions.

‘It is a total no-brainer and yet this Government refuses to get on with the job. This is criminal negligence.

‘We have decided there is something more important than our fears. We have a quiet, iron determination now. We are here to do our duty – to fulfil our responsibilities to our grandparents and their parents who gave their lives to preserve our way of life. To our children and the next thousand generations who will curse us for eternity if we do not act.

‘We will keep going until the Government responds.’

The activist speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari said: ‘The United Nations have made it very very clear that humanity is in a code red, which means that emissions – global emissions – are rising. I do believe that insulating the housing stock of the UK is the most cost-effective way to reduce those emissions.  

‘History has shown that breaking the law peacefully and causing disruption – with Martin Luther King, the Suffragettes and Gandhi – that these are the most effective tactics to get change to happen quickly.’ 

The failure of police to immediately arrest protesters who blocked five junctions of the M25 for up to four hours sparked fury this week. 

Yesterday Richard Madeley accused the original M25 eco mob of ‘fascism’ for ‘blocking out reality’ in an angry clash with an activist – as motorists trying to haul away protesters were called ‘heroes’ amid anger at the slow police response. 

Electrician Liam Norton, 36, who did not take part in the protest but was one of the organisers, went head to head with the Good Morning Britain host yesterday morning as he attempted to justify the disruptive roadblocks as a means of protecting the planet. 

He said: ‘Why do you think grannies are on the road yesterday? Why do you think that’s happening? This is the way that has been proven to force the Government to act… the Government is not looking after their citizens, Richard.’

Do YOU know who these climate anarchists are? 

But Mr Madeley rejected the argument, saying: ‘You’re blocking out reality, aren’t you? You’re only seeing one aspect of reality. You’re ignoring the reality of the individual. 

‘You’re seeing the reality of the state, and that’s fine, but you’re seeing it at the expense of the reality of the individual, and that’s fascism, I’m afraid.’ 

A video has emerged of officers protecting the law-breaking activists while dragging away an irate and incredulous driver who decided to take the law into his own hands. The unnamed motorist tried to pull activists off the sliproad, believed to be at junction three for Swanley, Kent, as another man repeatedly yells at a policeman: ‘I just don’t understand why you won’t move them’.

The driver trying to break-up the protest and tear down banners was then dragged away by officers who then returned to guarding the members of Insulate Britain.

A second video showed another motorist trying to clear protesters at junction 20 of the M25 at Kings Langley in Hertfordshire, leading some people to call him a ‘hero’ – although others warned about the dangers of vigilantism. 

There was also disruption and long queues at junction six for Godstone in Surrey, 14 for London Heathrow Airport, 20 for Kings Langley in Hertfordshire and 31 for Purfleet in Essex near the Dartford Crossing. There have been 92 arrests so far.

Surrey Police arrested 35 activists for a range of offences including highway obstruction – but all have now been released. A total of 15 were released on conditional bail while the rest were released pending investigation. 

No one has yet been charged, with the force saying they are collecting witness testimonies and dashcam footage to ‘progress the investigation’. 

Insulate Britain confirmed that electrician Liam Norton was not among those arrested. 

A protester from the group Insulate Britain is arrested by police after being removed from the M25

A protester from the group Insulate Britain is arrested by police after being removed from the M25

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters taking part in blocking the M25 motorway in London

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters taking part in blocking the M25 motorway in London

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

Protesters from the group Insulate Britain blockade the M25 at Junction 23 for the A1 this morning

More than 80 climate anarchists set up roadblocks on the M25 during rush hour on Wednesday for the second time this week in an apparent bid to force action to reverse climate change and save the planet

More than 80 climate anarchists set up roadblocks on the M25 during rush hour on Wednesday for the second time this week in an apparent bid to force action to reverse climate change and save the planet

Police then tackled the driver as people took to social media to praise him and criticise the officers who dragged him away

Police then tackled the driver as people took to social media to praise him and criticise the officers who dragged him away 

An irate driver who had enough of the queues on the M25 took the matter into his own hands and began moving protesters with links to XR and grabbing their banners

An irate driver who had enough of the queues on the M25 took the matter into his own hands and began moving protesters with links to XR and grabbing their banners

Obstruction of a British road ‘without lawful authority or excuse’ is an offence under Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980, with a punishment of a fine and up to six months in prison. 

Yet at Junction 14 of the M25, close to Heathrow, it took four hours to arrest the activists and reopen the road at one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the UK.

With police again accused of being too scared of tackling climate change activists, one critic tweeted: ‘Public servants stand by while the public do the job they are paid for. 

‘This bl**dy country at times is just beyond. They were happy to arrest people for going for a walk or stopping on a bench for a coffee’. 

Another wrote: ‘If the police won’t enforce the law then that leaves no choice but to do it ourselves. 

‘These climate change imbeciles have no legal basis upon which to block the highway especially as such nonsense could potentially hold up emergency services and cost lives’.

Officers from Kent, Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire and the Metropolitan Police dealt with the incidents that caused delays of up to four hours at rush hour. 

Many questioned why it took up until Midday to break-up protests that began at 8am. 

A former chief constable said the protest was ‘extraordinarily dangerous’, while motorists – some of whom were stuck in traffic for three hours with young children – said it was ‘madness’, with one urging police: ‘Move them.’

The Metropolitan Police said it took action ‘to ensure disruption was minimised’ while the Hertfordshire force insisted it ‘quickly mobilised resources to the scene’.

AA president Edmund King said: ‘This action is not only incredibly dangerous in potentially putting lives at risk, but it also backfires in environmental terms by causing more delays and more vehicle emissions.

‘These are some of the busiest sections of the M25 where tens of thousands of drivers will have been affected and it has a negative knock-on effect on economic activity.’

A Surrey Police spokesman said: ‘We were called to Junction 6 and Junction 14 of the motorway just after 8am following reports that a number of people were protesting on behalf of Insulate Britain.

‘A total of 35 people were arrested on suspicion of various offences, including public nuisance, obstructing the highway and conspiracy to cause danger to road users. 

They were taken to custody, with 15 released on conditional bail while the rest have been released under investigation pending further enquiries.’ 

‘If you need anything, just let me know’: Police officer jokes with M25 eco-mob and asks if they are in any ‘discomfort’ as protesters block busy motorway

What the officer said: 

‘Right, I have spoken to officers about what offences are available to them. Individual officers will come and speak to you and they will make their own decision as to whether you are arrested for failing to comply with Section 14.

‘Each individual officer will come and speak to you and if you’ve got any questions at all, just ask and if any of you are in any discomfort or need anything, just let me know and we’ll try and sort you out in a nice way. 

‘Couldn’t have phrased that any worse could I? But no, if you need any assistance at all, just let me know okay?

‘Right, we’ll be as we are.’   

In another video, a single police officer was filmed strolling onto the motorway as protesters sat with their hands glued to the road. 

He said: ‘Anybody organising it? Who’s the organiser here? No one?

‘Okay, I’m going to have to ask you all to move as you are blocking the highway. 

‘Anybody want to admit to being part of this?   

Steve Gower, 54, pictured in a 'Team Corbyn' T-shirt from Gloucester, is one of the ringleaders of yesterday's protests

Steve Gower, 54, pictured in a ‘Team Corbyn’ T-shirt from Gloucester, is one of the ringleaders of yesterday’s protests

Ironically, Mr Hallam owns a farmhouse which was described as ‘poorly insulated’ in an official energy performance certificate. His 2,000 sq ft farmhouse in Carmarthen, South Wales, was given the lowest possible energy rating on the certificate. It is unclear if Mr Hallam has taken steps to improve the rating since it was issued six years ago. 

Asked about the certificate last night, a spokesman for the group said: ‘This is the point – UK homes are the leakiest in Europe, with many millions of families being unable to afford the advice and help needed to insulate the building they live in.’

Joining Mr Hallam was David McKenny, 38, from Cambridge, who was one of six XR protesters who ‘doorstepped’ TV wildlife expert Sir David Attenborough, 95, at the height of pandemic after he criticised their tactics. The group posted a letter through Sir David’s door as he isolated due to his age last year. 

Vegan business coach Zoe Cohen, 51, from Lymm, Cheshire, said she joined yesterday’s action to demand ‘real action’ from ministers. She was involved in XR’s takeover of central London last month. 

Ms Cohen said then: ‘We are more scared of the reality of what this system is doing to ending life on Earth and ending our future and our children’s future than we are of spending a night in a cell.’ She describes herself as a ‘carbon literate coach’ and ‘XR catalyser’ on social media. 

Janine Eagling, 60, from London, helped to block the M25 and A13 junction yesterday. She has been involved with XR since 2018, helping to form blockades across Waltham Forest. 

The IT project manager describes herself online as a ‘world citizen’ and ‘rebel’ as well as a cyclist, walker and gardener. She has overseen IT projects at top universities and was part of a campaign to improve safety for cyclists in the capital. 

Liam Norton, 36, a London electrician who helped organise the protest, said he was ‘shocked at the lack of significant action from our Government’. 

He became involved in climate activism in 2018 when he helped blockade five bridges in the capital and went on to join XR’s ‘actions team’, which is responsible for planning civil disobedience. He was convicted over blocking printing presses last year. 

He delayed court proceedings by gluing himself to a table. It took three hours for police to remove him and the stunt is thought to have cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds.

He told Good Morning Britain: ‘The government is not looking after their citizens. We are. 

‘We’ve got a plan to insulate Britain that gives you the best value for money in terms of reducing emissions. Hundreds of thousands of meaningful jobs will be created.’

Another protester, Steve Gower, 54, from Gloucester, is unemployed but describes himself as a volunteer advocate for the homeless and is an active Unite union campaigner. 

Last summer Gower was ordered to pay £267 by a magistrate after he dropped a cigarette in the street while visiting a Jobcentre. He said that the fine spiralled because he couldn’t afford the reduced fine of £75 and was told there was no opportunity to pay in instalments.  

He was joined at the M25 road blockage by Eli Rose, 26, who spent 16 days in a tree last September to protest the HS2 rail link. 

Ms Rose lived in the tree in Parliament Square because she ‘cannot bear’ knowing her potential future children will be born ‘into a world where they will have to battle through food shortages and drought.’       

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