Just Stop Oil supporter Cressie Gethin, who climbed a motorway gantry above the M25 in July 2022, faces trial at Isleworth Crown Court. Once again, she’s another activist who’s facing the Tories’ draconian anti-protest laws – simply for raising the alarm over the climate crisis.
Just Stop Oil’s 2022 M25 heatwave action
Cressie will appear before Judge Duncan from Monday 5 February, charged with causing a public nuisance for climbing a gantry above the M25 on 20 July 2022. She was arrested alongside four other supporters of Just Stop Oil who climbed gantries in two other locations on the M25. They were demanding the government halt licensing and consents for the development of any new fossil-fuel projects in the UK.
The trial is expected to last a week. Two other Just Stop Oil supporters arrested on the day have pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance on the M25. They are due to be sentenced by 20 February.
Cressie Gethin, a musician from Hereford, said:
I empathise sincerely with everyone who was affected by this action, and I hope that some can understand that I acted for them and their children. The 40C heatwave which prompted my actions was a taster of the avoidable suffering being facilitated by the government. In a time of crisis it becomes a moral compulsion to sound the alarm.
The day of action on the M25 came in response to the unprecedented heatwave in July 2022 that saw temperatures in the UK rise above 40 degrees for the first time, a milestone that scientists previously thought was impossible.
On 18 July 2022, the UK Health Security Agency and Met Office issued the first ever level-four alert, as the government declared a national emergency.
Rail services were severely disrupted due to tracks buckling in the heat and overhead cables sagging and Network Rail issued a ‘do not travel’ warning on 19 July. During the summer of 2022, an estimated 2,985 excess deaths were associated with the heat, the highest number ever recorded.
Just a day prior to the hottest day on record, the high court ruled the Government’s Net Zero strategy unlawful.
‘Regressive’ new laws targeting climate protests
Cressie is charged with causing a public nuisance, a statutory offence under the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
Earlier this month Michel Forst, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders released a statement, which severely criticises the UK Government’s increasingly draconian treatment of peaceful climate action, suggesting that Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain supporters are being subject to “persecution, penalization or harassment”.
He made reference to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, saying:
I learned that, in the UK, peaceful protesters are being prosecuted and convicted under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, for the criminal offence of “public nuisance”, which is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
It is important to highlight that, prior to these legislative developments, it had been almost unheard of since the 1930s for members of the public to be imprisoned for peaceful protest in the UK. I am therefore seriously concerned by these regressive new laws.
‘Civil resistance’ will continue, like it did on the M25
Just Stop Oil supporters say they are refusing to allow the breakdown of ordered society and a collapse of the rule of law as a result of the “selfish actions” of a few.
The group said:
The people of the UK have had enough of the corruption and lies of those running the country and are stepping into civil resistance in order to save our communities from the worst of climate breakdown. It is not a case of ‘if’ we will win, but ‘when.’
Featured image via Just Stop Oil