Jailed Insulate Britain activist to go on hunger strike

A Insulate Britain spokesperson reads out a statement outside court

An Insulate Britain activist jailed for blocking the M25 has declared a hunger strike and said she believes she is “morally right, if legally wrong”.

Nine supporters of the group were jailed at the High Court in London after they admitted breaching an injunction by taking part in a blockade at junction 25 of the motorway during the morning rush hour on October 8.

Some of the group glued themselves to each other and two glued themselves to the road, causing disruption for over an hour and a half on the busy motorway.

Ana Heyatawin, 58, and Louis McKechnie, 20, were jailed for three months, while Ben Buse, 36, Roman Paluch-Machnik, 28, Oliver Rock, 41, Emma Smart, 44, Tim Speers, 36, and James Thomas, 47, received four-month sentences.

Ben Taylor, 37, was given a longer sentence of six months “to deter (him) from committing further breaches” after his submissions to the court on Tuesday were described by Dame Victoria Sharp as “inflammatory” and a “call to arms”.

Ms Smart announced her intention to go on hunger strike immediately and said in a statement, released after she and the other activists were taken to the cells by security officers, that the Government is “betraying us”.

(Back row) Tim Speers, Roman Paluch, Emma Smart, Ben Taylor, James Thomas, (front row) Louis McKechnie, Ana Heyatawin and Oliver Roc. Credit: PA

She said: “Our Government is betraying us, betraying our vulnerable people and betraying our children’s future.

“I believe that my intentions are morally right, even if my actions are deemed legally wrong.

“This court may see me as being on the wrong side of the law, but in my heart I know I am on the right side of history. I will not be a bystander.”

Duncan Smith, executive director of operations at National Highways, said: “Safety is our top priority and we welcome this outcome.

“We respect people’s right to protest but do not condone the actions of anyone who puts their lives, and the lives of road users, at risk.

“The judge’s decision will hopefully make people think again about carrying out reckless and dangerous protests such as these and endangering people’s lives.

“The injunctions remain in place and we stand ready to do what is necessary to limit the impact of any protests on the strategic road network, and to keep drivers safe and on the move.”