Just Stop Oil zealots guilty of risking 'serious harm' to F1 drivers

Six Just Stop Oil eco-zealots are found guilty of risking ‘serious harm’ to Formula One drivers for storming Silverstone track to protest British Grand Prix

  • Six Just Stop Oil eco activists convicted of causing public nuisance for F1 protest
  • Group stormed track at Silverstone and disrupted the British Grand Prix 

Six Just Stop Oil climate change protesters have been found guilty of risking ‘serious harm’ to Formula One drivers and race marshals during a track invasion at last year’s British Grand Prix.

Jurors at Northampton Crown Court convicted the four men and two women of causing a public nuisance.

During the trial, the court saw footage of five of them sitting on and being dragged off the circuit at Silverstone as two Formula One cars passed close by.

Alasdair Gibson and Louis McKechnie, both 22, Bethany Mogie, 40, David Baldwin, 47, Emily Brocklebank, 24, and Joshua Smith, 29, all claimed the ‘meticulous’ protest did not risk serious harm.

All six defendants gave evidence at their trial, claiming the protest which started after a red flag was signalled to halt the race, had followed a ‘meticulous’ safety plan.

The British GP was stopped following the stunt whilst the activists were removed 

According to Just Stop Oil, both Mekechnie and Smith were imprisoned following the stunt.

The four other defendants they say, were electronically tagged and under house-arrest with various curfews since the incident. 

Jurors deliberated for eight hours and 47 minutes over three days before returning guilty verdicts on the activists, whom the Crown said had clearly caused an immediate risk of serious harm by sitting ‘in the face’ of fast-moving vehicles.

The activists, bar Baldwin, all went on to the race circuit during the protest whilst Baldwin was found in a car park along with glue, cable ties and a Just Stop Oil banner and was said by the Crown to have been ‘in it together’ with his co-defendants.

Just Stop Oil protesters (left to right) Bethany Mogie, Alasdair Gibson, Emily Brocklebank and David Baldwin arriving at Northampton Crown Court

Joshua Smith arriving at Northampton Crown Court charged with conspiracy to cause public nuisance

Louis McKechnie (pictured at a petrol station protest in April 2022) is currently in prison for a series of public nuisance offences 

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Simon Jones told the court: ‘As events unfolded, the F1 Grand Prix had started and it was under a red flag after a serious accident had occurred at the very start.

‘Each of these defendants were present at Silverstone and they were intent on causing a disruption to the race.

‘It is not in dispute that five of the defendants in this case – all of them save for David Baldwin – made it on to the racetrack and they did not have permission to be there.

‘There is no dispute as to that, and they sat down in front of the ongoing cars – Formula One motor racing cars.

‘They will inevitably say that this was done as an act of protest and in order to bring publicity to the cause and demands they make.’

Left to right (top): Emily Brocklebank, David Baldwin and Alasdair Gibson. Left to right (bottom): Louis McKechnie, Bethany Mogie and Joshua Smith

Video footage from various camera angles covering Silverstone was played to the jury, as well as personal video statements from five of the defendants recorded a day before the protest, including a claim that the world is ‘being destroyed for the benefit of a few people’.

Mr Jones told the court: ‘The prosecution say that there was clearly an immediate risk of serious harm being caused. Plainly they could have been struck by fast-moving vehicles with obvious severe consequences.

‘We say that that their actions also caused risk to the drivers themselves and the marshals.’

Protestors are removed after running onto the track at the Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Six people have been convicted on conspiracy to cause public nuisance following the stunt

McKechnie, who grew up in Weymouth in Dorset, told jurors the group had planned the protest over two-and-a-half months, making it as safe as possible.

He also denied that the action, designed to draw media attention to Just Stop Oil’s call for the Government to halt new fossil fuel extraction licences, had been reckless.

Following the race, Sir Lewis Hamilton had criticised the protest on Instagram, writing: ‘As we’ve seen today, this is a very dangerous sport.

‘I wasn’t aware of the protests today, and while I’ll always support those standing up for what they believe in, it must be done safely.

‘Please don’t jump on to our race circuits to protest, we don’t want to put you in harms way.’

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