Norwich protester pleads not guilty to blocking M25

Gabriella Ditton

Gabriella Ditton, 28, of Norwich, has pleaded not guilty to blocking the M25. - Credit: Claire Bullion

A Norwich climate crisis protester has pleaded not guilty to obstructing the M25 as part of Insulate Britain protests.

Gabriella Ditton, 28, will stand trial after she denied being part of a group which disrupted the journeys of an estimated 18,000 drivers on the M25, including an ambulance carrying a patient, by sitting across Junction 3 on September 29.

Ditton is currently part of a group of Just Stop Oil protesters, who are disrupting the distribution of oil around the country through a range of protests.

The group were praised by District Judge Stephen Leake following the hearing at Crawley Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, who said they had “inspired” him after making impassioned speeches about their concerns over the climate while representing themselves in court.

But the judge added that his role was to “apply the law” and said their actions had caused “significant disruption” to the motorway.

During the obstruction, some demonstrators glued themselves to the ground while one, Biff Whipster, stuck himself to a police car.

Nine of the activists admitted charges in relation to the protest either by post or in person at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Mary Adams, 68, Ian Bates, 63, Karen Matthews, 60, Margurite Doubleday, 67, Bethany Mogie, 39, and Xavier Gonzalez-Trimmer, 21, and Lucy Crawford, 52, each pleaded guilty to wilful obstruction of free passage of the highway.

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Whipster, a 54-year-old from Canterbury, admitted criminal damage by leaving a “hard, crusty layer of glue” on the window of a police vehicle during the demonstration.

During the hearing, Mr Leake said: “I have heard your voices.

“They have inspired me and personally I intend to do what I can to reduce my own impact on the planet, so to that extent your voices are certainly heard.

“These are difficult cases for us judges because we have to apply the law and that is what we have sworn our judicial oaths to do.”

Five protesters, Tim Speers, Daniell Thomas, Peter Morgan, Louise Lancaster and Iain Webb did not attend court and were convicted of wilful obstruction after a trial was held in their absence.

Alongside Ditton, Barry Mitchell, 74, of Telford, also indicated a not guilty plea to wilful obstruction and will attend Horsham Magistrates’ Court on May 11.

Victoria Lindsell and Michelle Charlesworth, each accused of one count of wilful obstruction, and Louis McKechnie, charged with criminal damage, had their hearings adjourned until April 28 at Crawley Magistrates’ Court.