Just Stop Oil: three Greater Manchester activists who disrupted British Grand Prix at Silverstone spared jail
Three Just Stop Oil activists from Greater Manchester were given suspended prison sentences or community orders by a judge after they disrupted a Formula 1 race.
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Three Just Stop Oil activists from Greater Manchester who disrupted the British Grand Prix at Silverstone have been spared jail after appearing in court, receiving a mixture of suspended prison sentences and community orders.
The trio sat on the track while the Formula 1 race was taking place on 3 July 2022. They were sentenced by Mr Justice Garnham at Northampton Crown Court after being convicted of causing a public nuisance.
The activists said they carried out the protest to demand the government halts all new licensing and consent for fossil fuel projects in the UK as part of a response to climate change.
They told the jurors how they scrutinised the Formula 1 rulebook carefully to make their protest as safe as possible by ensuring their presence on the track would bring out a red flag, stopping the race completely.
Who are the Just Stop Oil activists from Greater Manchester who disrupted the British Grand Prix?
The three Just Stop Oil activists from Greater Manchester who took part in the British Grand Prix protest were Louis McKechnie, a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student from Manchester, Josh Smith, 29, a bricklayer from Oldham, and 24-year-old Emily Brocklebank who is a psychology student from Manchester.
McKechnie was given a 12-month jail sentence which was suspended for two years and given a community service order, while Brocklebank was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for the same period and Smith was ordered to do community service.
The trio had three other co-defendants who took part in the protest as well but were not from the city-region. They were also given suspended jail sentences and community service orders by the judge.
During their trial the activists told the jurors they had studied the Formula One rulebook and footage of other races closely to ensure they would be putting themselves in as little danger as possible by sitting on the track.
They said they planned to bring out a red flag to stop the race, which would alert drivers and marshals to their presence on the circuit as quickly as possible.
The supporters sat on a part of the Silverstone track away from the racing line that the Formula One cars most commonly use as the drivers were slowly brought back into the pits. Witnesses told the jury that the staff at Silverstone then got the all-clear to remove them from the circuit.
What did the Just Stop Oil supporters say?
Speaking before the trial, Louis said: “Every year the government approves new fossil fuel projects and every year they impose new laws criminalising those who might speak up. Prison is not the end of the world; inaction on the climate emergency is.
“Top scientific reports state that the government’s current targets will result in the death of billions. My generation is being marched into a slaughterhouse and imprisoned if we speak up about it. We deserve better.”
Emily said: “During the trial we spoke of our careful planning and of Formula One’s own safety measures, so despite the action being perceived as dramatic, it was safe. In order to achieve media attention you must, at times, create visually striking images in order to communicate your message.
”Although It feels very strange to sit in the glass box waiting to be sentenced, it is doubly surreal that it is not the government that is waiting to be judged for ignoring both the science, and their commitments in law to prevent climate breakdown.”
Since Just Stop Oil’s protests against fossil fuels and in favour of major action to combat the climate emergency began more than 2,000 arrests of activists have been made, the organisation says.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been contacted for comment.