Insulate Britain activists glue themselves inside London courtroom

“We’re not criminals,” said one activist. “We’ve been brought here because we’ve asked for insulation.”

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent
Wednesday 27 April 2022 11:49
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<p>Ana Heyatawin, Diana Warner and Liam Norton, the three Insulate Britain activists who disrupted the court proceedings Tuesday. </p>

Ana Heyatawin, Diana Warner and Liam Norton, the three Insulate Britain activists who disrupted the court proceedings Tuesday.

Insulate Britain activists glued themselves to court benches and the dock as they appeared in an east London court Tuesday.

“We’re not criminals,” said Ana Heyatawin, who glued herself to a bench at Stratford Magistrates Court. “We’ve been brought here because we’ve asked for insulation for our damp flats, it’s ridiculous.”

Diana Warner, a retired GP from Bristol, was the activist in the dock Tuesday when the action took place, which saw journalists and members of the public gallery asked to leave the courtroom. She was due to enter a plea for a charge of causing public nuisance in blocking junction 14 of the M25 motorway on 27 September 2021.

Ana Heyatawin outside Stratford Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Insulate Britain said 25 activists were due to appear in court Tuesday but 12 did not show up.

The action comes after Insulate Britain declared the country’s courts “a site of non-violent civil resistance”, saying the UK legal system no longer has any legitimacy. The group warned that activists facing charges may refuse to attend hearings, or if they do appear may refuse to co-operate with lawyers, judges and magistrates.

As the district judge asked her to confirm her identity, Dr Warner said she wanted to pay tribute to climate activist Wynn Alan Bruce who died 24 hours after setting himself on fire on the steps of the US Supreme Court on Earth Day.

Dr Warner, 63, said she also wanted to pay tribute to Angus Rose, a climate activist who until recently was on hunger strike outside Westminster calling on the government to agree to brief MPs and members of the cabinet on the latest climate science.

“If you were actually upholding the law we would not have to be here,” she said, addressing the court as she took to the dock. “We’re in dire straits we’re fighting for our children’s lives … we need the courts to properly take charge of the law,” she added, telling the court officials “it’s up to you.”

Soon after, Dr Warner glued her hand to the dock with Ms Heyatawin gluing herself to a bench in the courtroom while breaking into song. The action was met with cheers from the public gallery where Insulate Britain supporters had gathered.

Press and members of the public were asked to leave the room, but members of Insulate Britain stayed put and court officials eventually called for half a dozen members of the police to escort them out of the courtroom. Meanwhile, Dr Warner and Ms Heyatawin stayed put stuck to their positions.

As Dr Warner began her speech, Liam Norton, 37, attempted to film the proceedings before being removed from the room. Mr Norton said he was protesting because the courts were complicit with the government’s refusal to decarbonize quickly enough.

Liam Norton outside Stratford Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The judiciary in this country criminalises ordinary people for trying to force the government to decarbonise, he told The Independent before entering the courtroom.

“It needs to refuse to criminalise us and bring the government to task,” he added.

The government’s primary purpose should be to defend and protect its citizens and at the moment it’s actively destroying the conditions when civilisation can exist, Mr Norton, an electrician from south London said.

“We are trying desperately to decarbonise our society and to try and force our government to listen,” he said, adding that for years ordinary people had been arrested, and been given criminal records when they were not at fault.

The Metropolitan Police said three people were arrested Tuesday following their disturbance at Startford Magistrates’ Court.

A 37-year-old man was arrested for attempted criminal damage and assault on an emergency worker, a 63-year-old woman and a 59-year-old woman were arrested for criminal damage after they glued themselves to furniture in the court room.

All three were taken into custody at an east-London police station.

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