Insulate Britain campaigners released from prison

Emma Smart was among nine protesters who were jailed last year for breaching a government injunction

Isobel Frodsham
Friday 14 January 2022 12:21
Insulate Britain protester says prison ‘emboldened’ him to block M25 again

An Insulate Britain campaigner who undertook a hunger strike while in prison has said it was “a beautiful day” as she was released from captivity.

Emma Smart an ecologist, was freed from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey shortly after 9.40am on Friday.

The ecologist undertook a 26-day hunger strike while in prison and was moved to the hospital wing 13 days into her strike.

Speaking to media after leaving, she said: “This is amazing. This is a beautiful day. It is lovely to have the sun on me – I’ve not had it on me for a few weeks.”

Whilst we have been in prison, families in Britain have been told to expect a 50 percent increase in their energy bills. This is a disgrace

Emma Smart

She read from a statement outside prison, which said: “Whilst we have been in prison, families in Britain have been told to expect a 50 percent increase in their energy bills. This is a disgrace.

“We know that millions of households in the UK already struggle in fuel poverty, with many thousands of people dying cold, lonely deaths every year because they cannot afford to heat their homes.”

Ms Smart, along with nine others, was jailed last year for breaching a government injunction preventing the campaigning group from protesting on the roads.

Dr Diana Warner, a retired GP, was also released from the same prison.

Four other members – James Thomas, an architect, Oliver Rock, a carpenter, Roman Paluch, a warehouse operator, and Tim Speers, a volunteer – are also being released on Friday, from HMP Thameside in south-east London.

Members of Insulate Britain took part in a series of protests which saw them stage blockades on major roads between September and November last year, causing long traffic jams.

‘This is a beautiful day,’ Ms Smart said

They are calling for the Government to put in place policy and funding for a national home insulation programme, starting with all social housing.

The Government-owned National Highways responded to the protests by obtaining High Court injunctions, which banned demonstrations on motorways and major A-roads in England.

During a High Court hearing in November, Thomas, Smart, Rock, Paluch and Speers admitted breaching an injunction by taking part in a blockade at junction 25 of the motorway during the morning rush-hour on October 8. They were handed four-month sentences.

Warner was given a two-month prison term at a separate High Court hearing in December for breaking the injunction in September.

A final member of the group, Ben Taylor, a community volunteer, remains in prison after being handed a six-month sentence.

Three other members of the group who were jailed last year have since been released.

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