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Insulate Britain activists jailed for role in protests

The protesters were in the High Court for breaching an injunction by Highways England

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The nine Insulate Britain activists outside the High Court before their hearing. Image: Greg Barradale

Nine Insulate Britain activists have been jailed for blocking roads during the group’s protests.

The group were on Wednesday morning sentenced at the High Court following a contempt of court hearing for breaking an injunction.

Two activists were given three month sentences, while six were jailed for four months, and one for six months.

One of the nine jailed, Emma Smart, said after the sentencing she would be going on hunger strike.

A High Court injunction taken out by Highways England stopped the group blocking any of the country’s “strategic road network” – a series of motorways and A roads covering 4,300 miles.

The nine activists were in court after being arrested on 8 October while blocking a junction of the M25, which was covered by the injunction.

Louise McKenchnie, 20, and Ana Heyatawin, 58, were jailed for three months each.

Dr Ben Buse, 36; Roman Paluch, 28; Oliver Roc, 41; Emma Smart, 44; Tim Speers, 36; and James Thomas, 47, were jailed for four months each.

Ben Taylor, 27, who told the court he would continue to block roads if freed, was jailed for six months.

After the sentencing, a letter from the nine was read out on the steps of the High Court. It said: “By imprisoning us, the government shows its cowardice. They would rather lock up pensioners than insulate their homes. They would rather lock up teachers than create thousands of proper jobs.

“They would rather lock up young people than take practical steps to reduce emissions. They will lock us up and leave thousands to die of cold this winter. We knew we would face prison when we took this action, but we could not stand by while the government betrays the general public.”

Defendants told The Big Issue on Tuesday, ahead of the hearing, that they were expecting custodial sentences.

“Yes I am nervous, anxious, terrified, excited. But it’s good to be able to explain why we’re doing this,” defendant Dr Ben Buse said.

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