Norwich climate activist avoids jail after blocking the M25

Gabriella Ditton - london climate protest

Gabriella Ditton protesting on Saturday, November 23, in London - Credit: deniselaurabakeranalogue

A Norwich woman has said judges need to do more in the climate emergency fight, as she avoided jail for her part in blocking a motorway.

Gabriella Ditton, 27, was given a 42-day suspended sentence at the High Court after admitting to breaching an injunction to stop her and other Insulate Britain activists blocking the M25.

It came after National Highways brought contempt of court proceedings against protesters accusing them of breaking an injunction granted in September aimed at curbing Insulate Britain's road blockades.

She was among a group of 19 who were sentenced on February 2. Miss Ditton was given a 42-day prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Miss Ditton was one of 11 people given suspended sentences of up to 60 days.

If they block the M25 again within the next two years they will serve their sentence.

The XR COP26 protest as demonstrators gather at City Hall in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The XR COP26 protest as demonstrators gather at City Hall in Norwich. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Five activists were jailed for up to 42 days.

Miss Ditton said: "I wasn't surprised, they weren't going to jail all of us, it'd be outrageous. 

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"It was my first time in High Court – it feels like a step up. It was a bit frightening but I felt alive.

"For my mitigation speech I just cried my eyes out about upset I was and how we don't protest out of malice."

Gabriella Ditton

Gabriella Ditton - Credit: Claire Bullion

On the ruling, she added: "What we need now is judges standing up. 

"They're not in emergency mode, if they were they wouldn't punishing people who are trying to protect the planet.

"Instead it's complicity and business as usual."

Lord Justice William Davis said that the judges' ruling was not about reviewing the M25 injunction but about upholding the rule of law.

He said: "We are simply concerned with the fact that an order was made by a court and a court order is to be obeyed.

"The rule of law would fall apart if people decided which orders and which laws they chose to abide by and which they did not."

Gabriella Ditton protesting at Schlumberger, an oilfield services company

Gabriella Ditton protesting at Schlumberger, an oilfield services company - Credit: Gabriella Ditton

Four of the group glued themselves to the steps of the High Court.

"When we found out, I realised it would be them who went to prison. I was relieved but felt like a bad comrade," she said.