Priti Patel vows to lock up the M25 eco mob

EXCLUSIVE – Priti Patel vows to lock up the M25 eco mob: Home Secretary finally reveals emergency plans to jail the ‘usual suspects’ rabble after same faces cause ANOTHER day of chaos on Britain’s busiest motorway

  • Priti Patel and Grant Shapps left ‘furious’ by the recent actions of the activists
  • Cabinet ministers instruct officials to seek an injunction against Insulate Britain
  • Injunction likely to be sought by National Highways in the High Court tomorrow 

Protesters who have brought chaos to the M25 face being locked up under emergency plans ordered by ministers last night.

Priti Patel and Grant Shapps instructed officials to seek an injunction against Insulate Britain. They are said to be ‘furious’ at the eco-activists who ran in front of traffic during yesterday morning’s rush hour.

Police chiefs said the ‘reckless’ escalation had put motorists’ lives at risk. Writing for the Daily Mail today, Home Secretary Miss Patel and Transport Secretary Mr Shapps condemned the ‘arrogant’ protesters and promised decisive action to stop them.

The injunction is likely to be sought by National Highways in the High Court tomorrow. If granted, it means protesters will face arrest and a potential instant jail term for contempt of court.

The legal case is likely to focus on the danger to road users.  

Priti Patel (pictured in the Commons on Tuesday) and Grant Shapps instructed officials to seek an injunction against Insulate Britain



The same activist seen at protests on three separate days on the M25 over the last week

‘Priti and Grant are furious that the lives of the law-abiding majority are continuing to be disrupted by the actions of an extreme minority,’ said a source.

‘They 100 per cent back National Highways to take legal action against these individuals to ensure those who the police arrest are not released on bail and able to return to disrupting and endangering people’s lives in this way.’

Activists were filmed making a death-defying dash on to the M25 just before 8am yesterday near Cobham in Surrey. Drivers were forced to slam on their brakes. 

Some of the hardliners have been arrested five times over the past ten days, only to be released to return to block the motorway again.

Dr Bing Jones, who has been detained by police four times, told the BBC: ‘I accept that I put my life at risk. I don’t really accept that we have put other lives at risk.

‘The disruption weighs heavily on me but it is necessary. Insulating houses is by far the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon emissions within the UK and it could bring millions of people out of fuel poverty.’  



The same activist seen at protests on three separate days on the M25 over the last week



The same activist seen at protests on three separate days on the M25 over the last week

Senior police officers said the risk to motorists was now ‘very high’ – yet the four forces dealing with the protests have charged only one activist. Surrey Police said it first received a call at 7.57am yesterday and arrived on the scene in three minutes. 

The protesters held up banners saying ‘Insulate Britain’ and poured blue paint on the road before they were dragged away by officers.

By 8.17am both carriageways were cleared and open, with 38 arrests being made.

Among those involved was Sue Parfitt, 79, a retired vicar who had already been arrested at least once. An Insulate Britain spokesman said the group was aware of only one activist in custody – possibly over a breach of bail – and said no charges had been brought.

They said the rise in gas prices ‘increased the urgency’ for change and the group would end its campaign in exchange for a ‘meaningful commitment’ to its demands for improved insulation in UK homes. Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman of Surrey Police said the group had become ‘reckless’ and ‘a change from what we have seen recently’.

While it is not possible to remand people in custody for obstructing the highway, he said the force was willing to ‘use any kind of option to prevent crime happening’. 


The same activist seen at protests on two separate days on the M25 over the last week


The same activist seen at protests on two separate days on the M25 over the last week

Other activists have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, public nuisance and causing danger to road users. ‘If we can find ways in the existing legal framework to prevent people coming back and repeatedly offending, we will absolutely use it, that is our aim, but there are some constraints,’ Mr Westerman added.

‘But we are looking at all of our options, and there may be some other things in the coming days and weeks that we are able to do that helps us in our in achieving our objectives.’

His colleague Chief Inspector Mike Hodder added that the ‘risk is very high when you are messing around on a motorway’. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Service said: ‘Those arrested have been released under investigation whilst the crime team fully investigate all lines of inquiry.’

A Surrey Police spokesman confirmed no one had been charged over the protests.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police also said it had made no charges but added that 32 people had been issued with community protection notices, which can lead to fines if not breached.

Kent Police said Alexander Rodger, 31, from Brighton, had been charged with criminal damage. A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: ‘Offences committed at a protest are often summary only and if the police have sufficient evidence they can charge those themselves without the need to come to us.’

The activists are treated individually and the offences for which each can be held are relatively minor and in most cases do not carry a custodial sentence. This means that – even if they are charged – they will not be remanded in custody.

We WILL use jail to end this motorway chaos: The protesters have broken the law and alienated the public, the Government will giving police powers to stop such guerrilla tactics, say PRITI PATEL and GRANT SHAPPS

But the Insulate Britain activists who have brought large sections of the M25 to a standstill in recent weeks have achieved the precise opposite. 

They have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen, particularly as we all strive so hard to rebuild after 18 months of the pandemic.

Insulate Britain activists have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen, writes PRITI PATEL (pictured)

Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all, writes GRANT SHAPPS (pictured)

Transport is so crucial to that recovery. With every day that passes, our roads and railways are helping more businesses to grow, and more people to find jobs.

Punishing motorists to make a point about home insulation makes absolutely no sense at all. 

As one van driver caught up in the chaos told a protester: ‘You are making people hate you.’

The police have our full support to take decisive action and we’re working with National Highways to take legal action against the protesters to ensure they cannot keep disrupting and endangering people’s lives in this way.

We are giving them powers to better manage such guerrilla tactics in future. 

In the medium-term, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will put public nuisance on a statutory footing, ensuring there are appropriate sentences for the harm caused.

People will continue to be able to make their voices heard without disrupting the lives of others. Even before the most recent demonstrations, the Metropolitan Police said that the actions of Extinction Rebellion – of which Insulate Britain is an offshoot – had cost the UK taxpayer a staggering £50million. 

The events of recent weeks – including the cleaning of blue paint which protesters pointlessly poured on to the road – will add to that already significant drain on public funds.

It is also ironic that many of the cars that have been caught up in the queues and congestion around the M25 are electric, with zero carbon emissions. 

There are now over half a million such cars in the UK, benefitting from one of the largest rapid charging networks in Europe.

Police arrive on the scene as protesters from the Insulate Britain pressure group block a roundabout near Stansted Airport last week

While Insulate Britain inflicts misery in its campaign of gesture politics, this government is getting on with the job of decarbonising our transport system by 2050.

Thousands of new charge points will encourage motorists to go electric in the coming decade as we phase out diesel and petrol. It is changes like this that make the difference, not posturing by a tiny minority who are arrogant enough to believe only they care about climate change.

We all agree that climate change must be tackled. But this sort of behaviour achieves nothing. 

It puts drivers at risk – and idling cars actually increase pollution. While this group of eco-warriors parade for the cameras, we are getting on with the job of delivering our ambitious targets.

We will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish demonstrators to cause massive and dangerous disruption to the lives of the hard-working majority.

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