Insulate Britain activist 'expecting prison' in London court hearing for alleged injunction breaches

RETRANSMISSION CORRECTION ON SPELLING OF PAUL SHEEKEY TO SHEEKY BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Screengrab taken from PA Video of Insulate Britain supporters (L to R) Paul Sheeky,Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Steve Pritchard, Steve Gower, Richard Ramsde outside the High Court, central London. Picture date: Tuesday December 14, 2021. Insulate Britain protesters are to face contempt of court proceedings at the High Court in relation to civil injunctions issued to prevent their protest action.
(L to R) Paul Sheeky, Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Steve Pritchard, Steve Gower, Richard Ramsden outside the High Court

An Insulate Britain protester said he was "fully expecting to go to prison" for allegedly breaching injunctions to curb disruptive climate change protests.

Speaking before proceedings got underway at London's Royal Courts of Justice Steven Pritchard, from Radstock in Somerset, said: "I’m obviously nervous."

A total of nine activists are facing contempt of court proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice in London: Dr Ben Buse, Ruth Jarman, Biff Whipster, Dr Diana Warner, Paul Sheeky, Richard Ramsden, Stephen Gower, Steven Pritchard and the Rev Sue Parfitt.

Tuesday's court appearance comes almost a month after nine Insulate Britain protesters were given jail sentences of between three and six months for breaching High Court injunctions, and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs each.

Dr Buse was among the previous nine to receive prison sentences.

Speaking outside the court, Steven Pritchard said: "The expectation is that I and the other defendants will have a custodial sentence. So, I’m fully expecting to go to prison."

The 62-year-old property maintenance worker 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."

Nine people are expected to face contempt of court proceedings

Fellow protester Rev Parfitt, an Anglican priest from Bristol, said: “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.”

The 79-year-old said she will not go on hunger strike should she be sent to prison, as others have done.

She said: “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?

“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.”

A further 17 climate activists face being summoned to the High Court at later dates, the group said last month.

Insulate Britain is demanding that the Government insulate Britain’s “leaky homes” and end deaths it says are caused by winter fuel shortages.

Since September, the group has disrupted traffic on the M25, as well as on other roads in London, Dover, Birmingham and Manchester.

Videos showing furious motorists dragging the climate activists away from the blockades previously have gone viral on a number of occasions.

A number of High Court injunctions against the group’s road blockades have been granted to Transport for London and National Highways to prevent their disruptive protests.

Those who breach the injunctions could be found in contempt of court and face a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.