Insulate Britain priest says she will keep protesting if not jailed

Insulate Britain priest, 79, tells High Court she’ll continue roadblocking protests if she is not thrown behind bars as eco-zealots face jail today

  • Seven members of Insulate Britain face sentence at the High Court today 
  • Rev Sue Parfitt told the judge of her determination to continue protesting 
  • She said: ‘If you leave me at liberty, I shall continue to protest in whatever way most dramatically draws attention to the plight we are all in’ 

A priest who took part in Insulate Britain demonstrations has told the High Court she will keep blocking roads in protests if she is not jailed – as she and her fellow activists face sentencing today. 

Seven members of the climate action group have appeared at the High Court where they admitted breaking court injunctions – but said they were compelled to act to highlight Britain’s ‘leaky homes’.

They face possible jail sentences when Lord Justice Dingemans hands down his judgment today.

One of the defendants, the Rev Sue Parfitt, 79, from Bristol, drew applause from members of the public inside the Royal Courts of Justice when she addressed the judge about her determination to continue protesting in the event she is not jailed.

Rev Parfitt, from Bristol, told the judge: ‘Wasn’t it worth me sitting on the motorways to flag (our) message, and to interrupt people’s lives for an hour or so, in order to protect our children?

‘It is of no consequence to me what you do with me today.

‘If you leave me at liberty, I shall continue to protest in whatever way most dramatically draws attention to the plight we are all in – whether that involves breaking the law or not.’

Police officers arrest priest and climate activist Rev Sue Parfitt near the M25, on 13 September

Stephen Pritchard, 62, from Radstock in Somerset, told the judge he had personally been thanked by police and motorists for their protests, despite the disruption.

He told the court: ‘I will continue to block roads in peaceful protest regardless of the consequences for me personally.

‘We are all mired in the consequences of climate breakdown.’

And Steve Gower, 54, from Gloucester, added: ‘I took part in short, non-violent action on behalf of people present and future not in a position to make their voices heard – I will sleep tonight and thereafter with a clear conscience.’

The four other defendants are: Ruth Jarman, 58, from Hook, Hampshire; Biff Whipster, 54, from Canterbury, Kent; Paul Sheeky, 46, from Warrington, Cheshire; and Richard Ramsden, 75, from Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Two further defendants – Dr Diana Warner, 62, from Bristol; and Dr Ben Buse, 36, who is currently in prison having been among nine protesters to be jailed last month for similar breaches – are expected to be dealt with alongside the other seven today.

The breaches relate to an Insulate Britain protest on the M25, which led to tailbacks of 2.5 miles, when activists blocked the carriageways and glued themselves to the road.

Left to right: Paul Sheekey, Rev Sue Parfitt, Biff Whipster, Ruth Jarman, Steve Pritchard, Steve Gower, Richard Ramsde outside the High Court

police officer asks Insulate Britain climate activists to move out of a slip road from the M25 which they had blocked on 13 September

Myriam Stacey QC, for National Highways, said there is also reason to believe there will be further disruption.

‘Intelligence suggests they will resume in the spring of 2022,’ she said.

‘We asked for the source but we weren’t told. But it stems from the police.’

She added that ‘numerous’ previous media statements issued by Insulate Britain signalled their intention to defy the injunctions against the group’s road blockades.

Ms Stacey said: ‘Insulate Britain appreciate the protests are in defiance of court orders, the breaches are deliberate and aimed at providing the protesters with the best possible platform, and the associated disruption was acknowledged but seen as a necessary corollary and proportionate to that goal.’

She added: ‘It is safe to infer that they intend to continue on the basis that the risks attached to breaking the court orders are worth the price of espousing the cause they feel so strongly about.’ 

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