• Protest groups plotted chaos on motorway between 7 and 10 November 2022 

Five Just Stop Oil activists paid over £1,000 for four nights in an AirBnB as a ‘safe house’ while they attempted to bring the M25 ‘to a standstill,’ a court heard.

The protesters caused over £500,000 worth of damage and delayed 480,000 rush hour journeys by scaling gantries over the motorway.

While creating mayhem, the demonstrators rented accommodation through Airbnb, with one letting in south east London costing them £1,034.93.

Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Julian ‘Roger’ Hallam, 58, plotted the chaos between 7 and 10 November 2022, with Daniel Shaw, 38, teacher Louise Lancaster, 58, Lucia Whittaker-De-Abreu, 34 and Cressida Gethin, 22.

The plan was to have 16 JSO protesters climbing onto the gantries over the M25 every day.

Five days before the protest took place, Scarlet Howes, a reporter at The Sun, attended a JSO Zoom meeting and recorded it all.

In the call, it was clear that Shaw was running the meeting, before handing onto Hallam, then Whittaker-De-Abreu, then Lancaster and then lastly Gethin.

Only Whittaker-De-Abreu and Gethin were intending to climb the gantries.

The rest were involved in the planning of the demonstration and recruiting 64 protesters to scale the gantries.

During the call, Hallam said: ‘It is almost impossible to stop.

‘We have overwhelming evidence that this in the ballpark of what we need to do.

‘It has the potential to create gridlock.

‘It makes it absolutely impossible for this government to ignore.

‘It has to be done, it has to be done, that is what I have got to say.’

Whittaker-De-Abreu added: ‘We do want to essentially bring the whole motorway to a standstill - that is the vision.’

The activists organised height training and rehearsed and the ‘blue lights policy’ which was to avoid closing off the hard shoulder so the police could get past.

It emerged that Airbnbs were booked near to the gantries and were used as ‘safe houses’ where the activists would go two days before their ‘climb.’

Lancaster booked one of these Airbnbs, a house in southeast London, paying £1,034.93 for the house from 4-7 November.

The protesters contacted National Highways on November 6 2022 by email both to announce they were taking action the next day and to ask that National Highways impose a 30mph speed limit.

That request was refused and they were urged not to protest.

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward, KC, said: ‘Clearly that warning went unheeded. On Monday 7 November 2022, that was the first day of protesting.

‘Timings were seemingly deliberately staggered to cause mass disruption.’

In total, 14 climbed up different gantries across the M25, between the hours of 7:30am and 11:48am.

On the first day alone, some 240,000 vehicles were affected, with an estimated cost of over £250,000.

Among those delayed were children with special needs, people attending funerals and students attending exams.

The protesting continued over the following days, with 12 climbers arrested on November 9 and a further 8 arrested on November 10, with the disruption causing several people to miss flights and cancer appointments.

The total cost to the Metropolitan Police was over £1million.

Ms Ledward continued: ‘The activity was coordinated, it was persistent, the equipment recovered was virtually identical.

‘The activity as revealed by findings on arrest, involved a high level of awareness of police methods and efforts.

‘Those who planned to climb, such as two of these defendants, had every expectation that they would inevitably be apprehended by the police.

‘What the conspirators did not know was that the police had received other information of their plan before it reached its final day.

‘Enough to identify those who were part of the conspiracy to mass climb the gantries.’

That information came from Ms Howes, who is due to give evidence.

‘Each of these defendants had their roles,’ added Ms Ledward.

‘They all took an active part in that agreement.

‘Some of them may have joined later than others, it matters not.

‘The prosecution say they would have been guilty even if they had managed to intercept every single climber.

‘As Mr Hallam said, it cannot be stopped, and it was successful to a large extent.

‘You may or may not consider the ultimate aim of these defendants to be a noble cause.

‘We all have the right to protest, but we live in a democracy and there are very many ways in which a person can do that, committing a crime is not one of them, nobody, no matter how noble their cause is above the law.’

In total, 47 people were arrested at the Gantries, including Gethin and Whittaker-De-Abreu, while Hallam, Lancaster and Shaw were also arrested.

Hallam, of Macleod Street, Southwark, Shaw, of Adams Avenue, Northampton, Whittaker-De-Abreu, of Arthur Street, Derby, Lancaster, of Burnt Close, Cambridge and Gethin, of Cambridge all deny one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause a public nuisance.

The trial continues.

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2024-06-25T17:07:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd