Oil terminal protesters walk free from court after breach of court order

People take part in a Just Stop Oil protest blocking the entrance to the Kingsbury oil terminal near Birmingham. Picture date: Wednesday September 14, 2022 (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Five climate change protesters who blocked the entrance to the country’s largest oil terminal and “stretched” the resources of the police dealing with the Queen’s funeral walked free from court.

Around 50 Just Stop Oil activists were arrested, after sitting outside the main entrance of Kingsbury Oil Terminal in Warwickshire on September 14.

An injunction issued by the High Court in April, after a request from North Warwickshire Council, prohibited such actions.

At a civil hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Emma Kelly heard as protesters prevented tankers from entering and leaving for four and a half hours, before police began making arrests.

She heard how Jerard Latimer, George Oakenfold, Anthony Whitehouse, Chloe Naldritt and Darcy Mitchell, who admitted to violating the court order, were among a group that also stopped a terminal worker leaving the site for a medical appointment.

Opening the contempt of court case against the five protesters, the council’s lawyer Jonathan Manning said the purpose of the injunction was “in no way to prohibit lawful protests outside the terminal, but simply to prohibit dangerous activities.” that some protesters have been doing. in”.

He listed examples of activities such as having mobile phones near “terminals where there is a high risk of explosion” and “tunneling under highways.”

Mr Manning also said: “Many of the Warwickshire Police officers were being used to control the period of national mourning and funeral arrangements for the Queen.

“They had to be brought back to provide the numbers needed to safely arrest these protesters.”

Manning said officers also engaged in existing “mutual assistance” agreements from neighboring forces, adding that the “impact on police resources was quite significant.”

I’m a pensioner and I should be out there doing my assignment.

anthony white house

All five admitted to violating the court order, but, representing themselves in court, made mitigating statements.

Whitehouse, a retiree, told the court he was protesting the “climate crisis.”

“How else can I but protest against this terrible situation?

“Even the new king has said that we should be on a war footing to tackle the climate crisis.

“Personally, I have no choice but to stand up and resist against the powerful corporations that are driving us over the edge.

“I am a retiree and I should be there attending to my assignment.

“Instead, I am being criminalized for taking a morally correct stand against this injustice and the damage we are inflicting on the planet and future generations.”

Mitchell, a married father, said the government was “pursuing the exploitation of new oil and gas reserves in the North Sea” and a policy that would “cause the collapse of our societies”, adding: “I stand by my actions.”

Oakenfold, a 78-year-old retiree, said: “I managed for 77 years without getting involved with the police.

“I am sorry to take up the time of the police and the courts and I am aware of the costs to the state… I don’t want to be in prison.

“But with respect, it’s of no consequence compared to the extreme danger we’re in right now from rising temperatures around the world.”

Latimer said, “The effect of this mandate is to silence dissent.”

When asked about his financial means, Latimer, another retiree, replied that he had been a stay-at-home dad “during diaper days” and relied on his wife’s private pension.

“She is very against me doing this,” he added, before drawing a smile from the judge when he said “the less I charge, the better, your honor.”

His actions caused significant damage to policing in Warwickshire when resources were already stretched thin by the death of the Queen.

judge emma kelly

Naldrett, a 42-year-old theater producer, mother of two and Cambridge University graduate, said: “I have a strong sense of duty as a citizen, a professional and a mother.

“I pay my taxes. This is not where I expected to find myself.

“I do not have the immediate intention of violating the court order again, but I think it is a proportionate response to the climate emergency.”

Judge Kelly, in sentencing, said: “Their actions caused significant harm to policing in Warwickshire when resources were already stretched thin by the Queen’s death.

“Simply because of the sheer number of you who chose to gather in one location, it created a clearly significant risk of harm should police be needed elsewhere.”

The judge jailed each of the protesters for 23 days, but suspended their terms for two years, because it was their “first breach.”

He also took into account the fact that “before this event, you have lived dignified and law-abiding lives, making significant contributions to society.”

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