Isolated protesters in Britain have accused the government of delaying its action to avoid the embarrassment of having protesters in jail while Glasgow hosts a crucial climate summit.
Members of the climate activist group, which has blocked busy motorways and roads in and around London, were in high court on Tuesday morning. They were responding to three court orders granted on national roads banning the group from protesting on the M25, M4 and around the port of Dover.
On the plaintiff’s request, Judge Lavender agreed to postpone it for a week so that the three court orders could be heard along with a fourth, which prohibited the group from protesting at 14 London locations. Any trial could be agreed against the defendants for breaking judicial measures, Lavender said. A preview was also postponed last week.
In response to the delay, Insulate Britain member Liam Norton, who was in court, told the judge: “We believe they are potentially trying to delay this court order after Cop[26 climate talks, starting on 31 October]. We wondered why it took so long to issue this court order. “
Lavender assured him that the sentence had been handed down. David Elvin QC, who acts for National Highways, added, “I want to make it clear in public that there is no intention to do this as a lengthy procedure or to delay matters.”
Members of Insulate Britain have previously said they expect to see activists arrested within a week of launching their campaign. Some members have been arrested seven or eight times in the past five weeks and say that when they are released, they are clear with police that they will block roads again.
A spokesman for the group said it appeared the government was trying to prevent trials until after the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow. Asked why, she said, “We know our government and our institutions want us to live in a democracy, so they don’t want 50-100 climate protesters in pretrial detention when Cop starts.”
In court, Norton said that, in fact, Insulate Britain was trying to maintain laws that the government had failed to comply with, specifically the obligations to keep climate change within 2C and keep the UK population safe. “We believe that the people who should be in court today are the UK government and in particular Boris Johnson, who should be tried for treason in the British state,” he said.
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