Three members of Insulate Britain have disrupted a magistrates court trial, gluing their hands to court furniture and paying tribute to the environmental activist who died after setting himself on fire outside the US supreme court.
Dr Diana Warner, a retired GP from Bristol, had been due to face trial at Stratford magistrates court on a charge of causing a public nuisance by obstructing junction 14 of the M25 on 27 September last year.
But when she entered the dock, fellow Insulate Britain members Liam Norton and Ana Heyatawin followed her into the court, began filming and broadcasting with their phones, and glued themselves to the furniture.
Warner said: “Just a few days ago someone called Wynn Bruce self-immolated. He set fire to himself because the power that be are not paying attention to the climate.”
Supergluing her hand to the glass of the dock, and ignoring orders to identify herself, Warner went on: “I just want to say this first and pay tribute to Wynn Bruce and to Angus Rose, who was on hunger strike for 37 days outside our parliament.
“We are in dire straits. We are fighting for our children’s lives, for our grandchildren’s future and we should not be here. We need the courts to properly take charge of the law and human rights law, even the human right to life is at risk.”
Norton attempted to reach a bench at the front of the court, but was wrestled to the floor when he tried to superglue his hand there. Heyatawin was able to glue herself to a solicitors’ bench close to the dock and held her phone aloft.
She said: “We are not criminals. We have been brought here because we asked for insulation for our damp flats. We are not criminals … We are here being charged for asking for insulation for Britain’s social housing. I have been in prison for three months, I have been fined £5,000, I have now had to come back to court.
“This is not protest, this is civil resistance.”
Five police officers were brought into the court and the room was cleared. Insulate Britain later said its members had not been charged with contempt of court, despite having broadcast livestreams inside the courtroom, but all three were arrested for criminal damage.
The Metropolitan police confirmed officers made three arrests for criminal damage, with Norton additionally arrested for assault on an emergency worker.
“A police debonding team unstuck the three people. All three have been taken into custody at an east London police station,” the force said.
Last autumn, Insulate Britain made nationwide headlines for a series of road blockade protests on the M25 and other major roads in London and the south-east of England. They vowed to continue their protests until the government agreed to a national programme for insulating all Britain’s homes by 2030, beginning with social housing.
Heyatawin and Norton had been due to appear later in the same court facing the same charges. A number of other Insulate Britain members’ cases had been heard earlier. They had elected for their cases to be heard at crown court, where a verdict would be reached by a jury but the potential penalties on conviction can be much higher.
Before entering court on Tuesday, Warner, who has been to jail four times since 2020, had told the Guardian: “It’s just felt like a yo-yo, being inside and outside of prison. I’ve been much less at home than I have been in court or on the road. So I feel like a guest in my own home.”
It comes as hundreds of charges relating to Insulate Britain protests are due to be heard in courts in Kent, Essex and London. On Friday, the group said 129 supporters had been charged with a total of 510 offences, including 218 charges of causing a public nuisance, 268 charges of wilful obstruction of the highway and 20 charges of criminal damage under £5,000. Twenty-five defendants’ cases were listed for Stratford on Tuesday, but 13 did not appear. Four were said to be on protest actions and another was already in prison.
On Friday, Insulate Britain cases will be heard in three magistrates courts on the same day.