UK

A climate change protester has been jailed for five weeks after blocking traffic on the M4.

Stephen Pritchard, 63, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court for his part in an Insulate Britain demonstration in 2021.

He was convicted by a jury of causing a nuisance to the public when he, along with three others, stopped traffic at Junction 3 of the M4 on 1 October, 2021.

Insulate Britain said Pritchard is one of the first protestors to be convicted of causing a public nuisance – a common law offence which carries and maximum penalty of lifetime imprisonment.

Pritchard, a former parish councillor from Bath, previously used his speech in court ahead of his sentencing to condemn an order made by Judge Silas Reid to not mention the climate crisis as their motivation as “amoral” and “irrational”.

The judge told the protestors to “concentrate as much as possible on motivation” in their speeches ahead of sentencing having ruled that they should not mention their climate motivations during the trial.

Pritchard told the court he turned to protest action after he had “exhausted every other means”, including writing to his MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, signing petitions, leading sustainability projects and planting tens of thousands of trees.

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He said he felt “overwhelming sadness” about Government “inaction” on climate change.

Pritchard told Judge Reid: “I think that your rulings were amoral; I believe also they were irrational given the situation that we’re in.

“People’s lives are being lost. The only possible way I could imagine stopping peaceful civil resistance in this context is for you to tell me that this country has stopped pumping greenhouse gases into the air.

“I’m well aware of what prison is like, having been to prison. It’s not a very nice place. But I feel like I’m already a prisoner of my conscience.”

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