Two protesters have been convicted of contempt of court after defying an order not to cite climate change as their motivation for blocking traffic in the City of London.
Dorset councilor Giovanna Lewis, 65, and horticulturist Amy Pritchard, 37, along with screenwriter Paul Sheeky, 46, held onto the road between Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street in October 2021.
Lewis and Pritchard were jailed for seven weeks after disobeying Judge Silas Reid’s order during their trial at Inner London Crown Court.
Last month, another Insulate Britain protester, David Nixon, was jailed for eight weeks, also for disobeying Judge Reid’s orders.
Judge Reid said the trial was not about climate change, but whether the protesters caused public disturbance.
Isolate British activists Amy Pritchard, 37, and Giovanna Lewis, 65, outside Inner London Crown Court today
Lewis and Pritchard were among activists (pictured) who clung to the road between Bishopsgate and Wormwood Street in October 2021
Police officers carry an Insulate Britain activist during the protest on October 25, 2021
But Lewis showed no remorse, telling the court today: “I continue to be amazed that in a British court a judge could or would ban or criminalize the use of the words ‘fuel poverty’ or ‘climate crisis’.
“There are thousands of deaths every year in the UK from fuel poverty and thousands of deaths around the world from climate change. There is nothing for it but to give the truth a voice and not to silence it.
“I always believed that courts and judges would encourage this truth. I now see how naive I’ve been.’
Pritchard said, “History shows that the law is not always consistent with justice. I cannot and will not follow your statements.
‘Billions of people in tropical parts of the world may not be able to live there during my lifetime.
“We are turning these parts of the world into sacrifice zones. We are staring the total collapse of the ecosystem in the face.
“Lack of political action means that ordinary people must act. I don’t understand why there is no urgency from those in power.’
Referring to the judge, she added, “And I include you in that.”
Last month, another Insulate Britain protester, David Nixon (pictured), was jailed for eight weeks, also for disobeying Judge Reid’s orders
Lewis, Pritchard and Sheeky were among the 25 arrested after the October 2021 protest (pictured), as experts had to remove solvents from the streets that had been used to remove superglue
Judge Reid jailed the two demonstrators and said, “You both violated my statements in your closing speeches to the jury.
“You’ve all been given a chance to apologise. None of you took that opportunity.
“My verdict was made because it was irrelevant to the matters for the jury to decide.
“The public has rights just as much as protesters. “You all had contempt for justice.”
Lewis, of Portland, Pritchard, Walthamstow, East London and Sheeky, of Warrington, all denied causing public nuisance.
Jurors who tried the three Insulate Britain protesters at the Crown Court in Inner London were unable to reach a verdict and the judge blamed the defendants.
He told them, “You really went on until there was no more chance to come to a verdict.”
The Public Prosecution Service will announce on March 31 whether there will be a new trial.
The three were part of a large group of Insulate Britain protesters who clung to the road and brought rush hour traffic to a halt on 25 October 2021.
Lewis, Pritchard and Sheeky were among the 25 arrested as experts had to remove solvents from the streets that had been used to remove superglue.
Judge Reid had ruled that the defendants could not point to climate change as their motivation for blocking the road in their defense.
He said it was “not a trial about climate change or fuel poverty.”
In his closing address to the jury, Sheeky had attempted to defend the public nuisance charge in accordance with the judge’s order.
He said: ‘No real evidence is being produced that someone was stuck in traffic for 40 minutes, if they were and they were so annoyed by it then why didn’t they come forward to testify?
‘I was off the road at 8:49 am and at 8:55 am the road was completely clear. According to TFL, the incident was not yet serious… no buses had to be diverted.
“So, what stopped (the road) from being open?… A police van, they could have parked in numerous places without blocking the road.
Police officers detain an ‘Insulate Britain’ protester who was part of the demonstration blocking Upper Thames Street
Isolate Britain protesters block Liverpool Street in London as part of their demonstration
“Remember this was October 2021 when things still hadn’t returned to ‘business as usual’ due to the covid 19 pandemic… more people were working from home and less using public transport.
“Even if 5,6 or 7,000 people are affected, that is still 0.1 per cent of London’s population.
’20 minutes of the 960 minutes (we are awake) per day is only 2.08 percent of the day.
“I was there to get dramatic media attention and as a screenwriter I knew that would mean a dramatic situation.”