Six Just Stop Oil climate change protesters have been spared jail after a track invasion which risked “serious harm” to Formula One drivers and marshals at last year’s British Grand Prix.
Louis McKechnie, Emily Brocklebank and Bethany Mogie, who were among five campaigners who were dragged off the circuit at Silverstone as two Formula One cars passed close by, were given suspended jail sentences at Northampton Crown Court on Friday.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Garnham also handed 12-month community orders to fellow protesters David Baldwin, Alasdair Gibson and Joshua Smith.
Gibson and McKechnie, both 22; Mogie, 40; Baldwin, 47; Brocklebank, 24; and 30-year-old Smith all claimed the protest, which started after a red flag was signalled to halt the race, had followed a “meticulous” safety plan.
Brocklebank, of Yeadon, Leeds; Gibson, from Aberdeen; Mogie, from St Albans; McKechnie, from Manchester; and Smith, from Lees in Oldham, went on to the race circuit during the protest.
Baldwin, of Stonesfield, Oxfordshire, was found in a car park along with glue, cable ties and a Just Stop Oil banner and was said by the Crown to have been “in it together” with his co-defendants.
McKechnie and Brocklebank – who have a joint previous conviction for gluing themselves to the frame of a £70 million Van Gogh painting days before the F1 protest – were given suspended prison sentences of 12 months and six months respectively, both suspended for two years.
Mogie, a mother of four, was given a six-month sentence of imprisonment, also suspended for two years.
During the sentencing, Mr Justice Garnham told the six campaigners: “I accept that the motive for all of you was not to cause harm but instead to voice your concerns about climate change.
“None of you have committed any offence since the commission of this offence.”
The judge added that the “reckless” track invasion had been carefully planned, was a deliberate breach of the law and had been carried out despite warnings about the danger of going on to the circuit.
McKechnie, who grew up in Weymouth in Dorset, told jurors the group had planned the action over two-and-a-half months, making it as safe as possible.
During the trial, Mogie asked the jury to consider a 2021 Unicef report, which said about a billion children around the world are at “extremely high risk” from the impacts of the climate crisis and pollution.
Mogie, who represented herself during the trial, said in her closing speech to the jury: “To love is to protect.
“And I hope you can see that’s what we set out to do that day at Silverstone, before and on the day, with our planning and by sitting on the track peacefully for all that we are trying to protect.”