More than 50 Insulate Britain activists arrested for blocking M25 Junction 14 on Monday have since been released under investigation… despite High Court injunction meant to jail them

  • Eco mob say those arrested for blocking motorways are being released again 
  • 50-plus protesters formed a barricade at junction 14 by Heathrow Airport 
  • Group will continue to block roads despite threat of facing time in prison 
  • Demonstrators at blockade who have been arrested previously include Joshua Smith and Rev Tim Hewes 
  • Insulate Britain is planning to fill Britain’s jails with hundreds of eco-activists

More than 50 people arrested in connection with the latest Insulate Britain protest on the M25 have already been released by police despite the threat of an injunction Priti Patel and Grant Shapps said would put them behind bars.

Officers made a total of 53 arrests following the demonstration at Junction 14, near Heathrow, on Monday morning – the sixth blockage in a fortnight – including the owner of a multi-million pound property empire and a Extinction Rebellion-activist CofE vicar.

Some protesters glued themselves to each other, to barriers and the carriageway, and blue paint was sprayed onto the road, but all have been released. 

A total of 115 people have been involved in Insulate Britain’s campaign of disruptive actions over the last two weeks, with most being arrested multiple times, the group says. The total arrest tally has now reached 438. Only two people from Insulate Britain have so far been remanded in custody.

Activists, who have blocked the M25 six times in just over two weeks, continued their campaign despite a High Court injunction which could see them imprisoned, fined heavily, or have their assets seized.

But with only two people in custody, the group has vowed to continue the protests infuriating rush hour drivers. 

Usual suspects: Property tycoon Joshua Smith and vicar Tim Hewes have been arrested at multiple protests for Insulate Britain  

Four officers carry away a woman who was blocking the roundabout leading from the M25 motorway to Heathrow Airport yesterday – as all 50-plus protesters held on the motorway were released today

Police officers detain protesters from Insulate Britain occupying a roundabout leading from the M25 motorway. The Met says it can’t comment on the injunction, saying it is a civil not a criminal matter

The group, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, is calling on the Government to insulate all homes across the UK by 2030 to help cut carbon emissions.

Arrested for a SIXTH time after being repeatedly let go: Eco-hypocrite property tycoon among repeated offenders laughing at the law 

Joshua Smith has now been arrested six times. He was branded a hypocrite after it emerged he owned a multi-million pound property empire – but the homes had poor insulation, an issue at the heart of the group’s agenda.

The 28-year-old is heir to a £2million property empire and also has a seven-figure portfolio of his own. However, at least six homes owned by his Oldham-based company have efficiency ratings of E or F, according to the Sun.

This means the properties boast little or no insulation and also produce large quantities of extra carbon dioxide. Smith was pictured being held by police by the side of the M25 today before being led off in a police van. 

Joshua Smith at yesterday’s protest 

Reverend Hewes, who once sewed up his lips in protest at the influence of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was part of the mob blocking the M25 today despite already being arrested numerous times. 

The activist ‘permission to officiate’ in the Diocese of Oxford although he does not have a parish.

Asked about Rev Hewes last week, a spokesman for the diocese said: ‘The actions of Rev Hewes and others, while arguably well-intentioned, have frustrated many people and we’re unclear how the actions have been productive in encouraging the urgent change required.’ 

Rev Hewes, a retired dentist, previously said the Bishop of Dorchester, Gavin Collins, who comes under the Diocese of Oxford, had told him ‘he does support issues regarding climate change and the environment but not about breaking the law’. 

Reverend Hewes at yesterday’s blockade 

As well as targeting the London ring road, protesters have blocked other major routes including the A1(M) and A20 near the Port of Dover.

The campaign, which entered its third week on Monday, has seen well over 300 arrests.

But the Met Police have confirmed all those taken into custody on Monday have been released under investigation.

Kent Police revealed one person was charged in connection with an earlier Insulate Britain protest, among 96 arrests made by the force.

In an open Letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, Insulate Britain vowed to continue their campaign in the face of arrests and injunctions.

They said: ‘We are more fearful of the loss of our country than we are of you.

‘You can throw as many injunctions at us as you like, but we are going nowhere.

‘You can raid our savings.

‘You can confiscate our property.

‘You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars.

‘But shooting the messenger can never destroy the message: that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air.’

National Highways, which was granted the injunction, and the Department for Transport, have been contacted for comment.

Insulate Britain is planning to fill prisons with hundreds of ecoactivists over the next month in an attempt to create a ‘political crisis’ for Boris Johnson.

The radical group again brought misery to motorists on the M25 yesterday – in clear violation of an injunction which carries with it a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

Some of those involved in the latest protest at Junction 14, near Heathrow, have been arrested up to seven times over the past fortnight, but are yet to be charged. A further 53 arrests were made yesterday morning.

Scotland Yard is ‘making inquiries to understand whether those activists are in breach of the High Court injunction’.

But Insulate Britain spokesman Liam Norton said: ‘Throw as many injunctions at us as you like, we’re going nowhere… You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars. But that is only shooting the messenger. The truth is that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air.’

Activist Shel MacDonagh claimed that 300 people would need to be jailed in the lead-up to November’s UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow to ‘create a political crisis’ big enough for the group to be granted concessions.

She added: ‘No one is claiming that forcing the Government to start on [insulation] installation is going to sort out the climate crisis.

The point is to get a win to galvanise the movement.’

Reverend Tim Hewes, 71, was again among the protesters yesterday. He was joined by another ‘rebel reverend’, Mark Coleman, a former dean of Rochdale. Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, is calling for the Government to insulate homes to help cut carbon emissions. A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘The more Insulate Britain break the injunction, the more the courts will agree to tougher and broader injunctions and impose tougher sentences. These people are not martyrs. They’re idiots gluing their hands to roads.’  

Joshua Smith at yesterday’s protest (left) on what is now his sixth arrest. Mr Smith (seen right at an earlier demonstration) was branded a hypocrite after it emerged he owned a multi-million pound housing empire – but the homes had poor insulation, an issue at the heart of the group’s agenda

Vicar Tim Hewes (left) was among the eco-rabble yesterday after being spotted at earlier blockade (right) 

A spokesman for the group said in a video released Monday that it wasn’t ‘scared’ by the court intervention, adding that its members were ‘prepared’ to continue being arrested.

The injunction was designed to act as a deterrent after weeks of blockades on both the M25 and A20 near Dover infuriated motorists and large portions of the British public.  

But news that the eco-warriors are still being released without conditions, reported by LBC, raises fears that they will continue to wreak havoc and put drivers’ lives at risk.

It comes as spokesman for the group Liam Norton – who became a laughing stock last week when it was revealed his own home hadn’t been insulated – warned in a video recorded at the weekend and released today: ‘You can’t scare us with these injunctions’.

Donning a black t-shirt and standing in front a bare white wall, he said: ‘I’m going to sit in the roads and directly oppose the injunction handed out by the Home Secretary and the Transport Secretary.

‘Our message to the Government is that you can’t scare us with these injunctions.

‘You can send us to prison, and what that will show is the Government’s cowardice, because they’re actually standing up for powerful interests rather than looking after the interests of the vast majority of the British people.’

He added: ‘We just want the Government to get on with the job of protecting the people’s future in Britain and also to stop the needless deaths of thousands of our elderly who freeze to death in their homes each year because they have to make that awful decision between heating and eating.

‘So our message to the Government is this; You can decide to put us in prison, and we’re prepared for that, but what would be better for the country maybe would be to give us a meaningful statement that you are going to get on with the job, so come on Boris, show some leadership, do what you need to do.’ 

The Metropolitan Police told the Mail Online it could not comment on the breaking of the injunction because it was a ‘civil issue’. 

The Home Office has been contacted for comment. 

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