...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Insulate Britain protesters sent a warning email to the police a day before they blocked the M25, according to Hove Crown Court.
A dozen protesters caused chaos by sitting down on the carriageway during rush hour traffic.
The email was sent to the Public Order Unit and senior officers but did not warn police about the exact location of the planned protest at Swanley interchange.
The police force responsible for the interchange did not receive the email.
The incident came as a surprise to Inspector Rob Thornton of Kent Police.
He was in command on the morning in question and had only four regular officers and one probationary officer on duty.
He dealt with the situation using the minimum levels of staffing.
The protesters handed out leaflets to motorists to explain that their action was part of a climate change protest.
However, angry motorists were not sympathetic and responded with fury, calling them “prks” and “fking idiots.”
The activists caused a public nuisance and have been charged with it.
The trial involves Cathy Eastburn, 55, the wife of a former Transport for London boss; Insulate Britain spokesperson, Cameron Ford, 32; Alexander Rodger, 33; and Venetia Carter, 58.
Rodger, a teacher, testified that the protest was timed to coincide with the COP26 conference in Glasgow.
He and others received specialist training in a church hall in the run-up to the incident to organise what would happen on the day and learn the theory of non-violence.
The protesters planned a series of actions in and around London to deliver “short, sharp shocks” and get arrested.
Rodger said that they wanted to be remanded in custody.
The climate change crisis compelled him and others to take action.
Although he knew that it could result in a criminal record and be very distressing to his family, he felt duty-bound to do it.
The protesters were all wearing orange hi-visibility tabards and walked into the busy road junction after a traffic light turned red.
They unfurled a banner across the road and then sat down across the carriageway blocking the junction.
PC Matthew Noone, who was called to the scene, heard insults being hurled at the activists.
He heard diverted motorists shouting things like “get a job” and swear words like “prks” and “fking idiots.”
One motorist was swearing at protesters and had to be restrained.
The protesters were causing a risk not just to themselves but also to motorists and other road users, according to Superintendent Mick Gardner.
He understood that they were taking the action to highlight climate change and to pressure the government to insulate Britain’s housing stock.
However, blocking the road caused traffic chaos and ultimately caused more pollution, which was not justified and not a proportionate action.