Six members of Insulate Britain to be released from prison

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Six members of Insulate Britain are due to be released from prison after they broke an injunction preventing them from protesting on roads.

James Thomas, an architect, Emma Smart, an ecologist, Dr Diana Warner, a retired GP, Oliver Rock, a carpenter, Roman Paluch, a warehouse operator, and Tim Speers, a volunteer, are due to be set free from HMP Thameside, in south-east London, and HMP Bronzefield, in Ashford, Surrey, on Friday.

The group are among 10 people who were jailed for breaking the Government’s M25 injunction.

Members of Insulate Britain took part in a series of protests which saw them stage blockades on major roads between September and November last year, causing long traffic jams.

They are calling for the Government to put in place policy and funding for a national home insulation programme, starting with all social housing.

The Government-owned National Highways responded to the protests by obtaining High Court injunctions, which banned demonstrations on motorways and major A roads in England.

Insulate Britain protests
Tim Speers, Roman Paluch, Emma Smart, Ben Taylor, James Thomas, Louis McKechnie, Ana Heyatawin and Oliver Rock (Insulate Britain/PA)

They were handed four-month sentences.

Warner was given a two-month prison term at a separate High Court hearing in December for breaking the injunction in September.

Smart, 44, from Dorset, undertook a 26-day hunger strike while in prison and was moved to the hospital wing at HMP Bronzefield 13 days into her strike.

Speaking about the experience from prison, she said: “I was on hunger strike for 26 days whilst in prison. I would rather be doing my job, as a research scientist, progressing scientific analysis, as an ecologist. But instead, to enact the rapid change we need, this feels like the only option left.”

Thomas, 47, from London, who was held at HMP Thameside, said: “My time in prison has been uncomfortable, stressful and sometimes scary.

“But nobody I’ve met in here has been angry about our actions [blocking the M25]. Some inmates have been full of respect. All of them have ‘got it’, and understood why we did it.

“People might say, does this kind of civil disobedience actually work? And I would say, well quite often, it doesn’t work. But quite often it does work, and those instances are well known throughout history.

“And so, given where emissions are, and given where the clock is, and given where the politics isn’t, how could we not try this?”

A final member of the group, Ben Taylor, a community volunteer, remains in prison after being handed a six-month sentence.

Three other members of the group who were jailed last year have since been released.

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