Insulate Britain declares courts ‘site of civil resistance’, saying legal system not legitimate

Activists charged with total of 510 offences may disrupt hearings before judges or magistrates

Jane Dalton
Friday 22 April 2022 21:14 BST
Insulate Britain protesters glue hands and feet to road outside parliament

Climate protest group Insulate Britain has declared Britain’s courts “a site of non-violent civil resistance”, saying the UK legal system no longer has any legitimacy.

Activists facing charges may refuse to attend hearings, or if they do appear may refuse to co-operate with lawyers, judges and magistrates.

Insulate Britain says that 129 supporters have been charged with a total of 510 offences. They are scheduled to face court in the coming weeks in 25 group hearings, starting with 13 members at Stratford magistrates’ court on Friday.

The charges include wilful obstruction of a highway after the group last year launched its campaign by blockading the M25,.

Insulate Britain, which wants the government to set up a national home insulation programme to reduce fossil-fuel use, says the need to prevent environmental disaster through greenhouse gas emissions is urgent.

Last week a judge praised the group’s protesters for their commitment to greener living as 12 were fined over a demonstration that disrupted the journeys of 18,000 drivers on the M25.

In an open letter to the UK judiciary, the group wrote: “We understand that this is a difficult time for the UK judiciary and we trust that you will connect to our shared humanity as we come to ask you for help…

“If a government insists on destroying the nation state, then that government is involved in tyranny. It is involved in an act of criminality of the highest order.

“It becomes the duty of all people of conscience to oppose that tyranny as an act of self-defence.

“The criminalisation by the judiciary of ordinary people attempting to preserve lives and the very fabric of our society is abhorrent.

“We declare that the British legal system no longer has any legitimacy whatsoever in our eyes.

“The courts are now a site of non-violent civil resistance which will continue for as long as it takes for you, the UK judiciary, to do what is right.”

Activists attending court may also disrupt proceedings by speaking when they should not to “challenge the legitimacy” of the courts, a spokesperson said.

“These are people who deeply understand we have only two to three years to seriously lower our carbon emissions.”

Barrister Alan Robertshaw said disrupting court would only inconvenience court staff and other people waiting for hearings to take place.

“Anyone who thinks a law is unjust and wants to change it should go after the people who make the law and those who lobby and fund them,” he told The Independent.

So far 174 Insulate Britain members have been arrested. Court hearings are due to take place at Crawley, St Albans, Stratford and Chelmsford in the coming weeks.

Earlier this week Labour said it would insulate 2 million houses within a year of coming to power to slash bills and reduce reliance on Russian gas.

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