Insulate Britain protester faces prison over contempt of court conviction
A supporter of the Insulate Britain climate protest campaign faces a prison sentence after he was convicted for contempt of court for telling a jury his actions were motivated by the climate crisis.
David Nixon was one of four defendants found guilty at Inner London crown court on Monday for causing a public nuisance by blocking the junction of Bishopsgate and Wormwood St in the City of London on 25 October 2021.
The four were among a group of protesters who walked out into the busy junction during morning rush hour. Some used superglue to stick their hands to the asphalt to make it more difficult for police to clear the area.
The action was part of an extended campaign of disruptive protest by Insulate Britain, calling for the government to begin a programme to retrofit every single home in the country with insulation.
The judge, Silas Reid, told the defendants at the beginning of the trial last week not to cite climate change as one of their motivations for taking part in the protest.
But as closing speeches were made in court on Monday, Nixon turned to the jury and, in reference to evidence that an estimated 8,500 bus passengers’ journeys were affected by their protest, said: “Coincidentally, 8,500 people is the amount of people estimated to have died in cold homes. This is significant and substantial.”
As Reid directed the jury to leave the court, Nixon continued: “That’s before moving on to climate change. Posters around the court building are saying that we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.
“You’ve not been able to hear these truths because this court has not allowed me to say them. Our safety is at risk, our society is at risk.
“I have only one apology: that Insulate Britain did not get our demand met.”
After the jury of seven women and six men jury returned, Reid told them to disregard Nixon’s statements. No application was made for them to be discharged, and he ruled the trial could continue.
He told jurors: “This is not a trial about climate change, fuel poverty, etc. Matters relating to that are not relevant to your deliberations, no matter how much Mr Nixon wants them to be.”
In a short subsequent hearing while the jury went out to consider their verdict, Nixon admitted contempt and declined two offers from Reid to apologise to the court, telling the judge: “I wish I could but I don’t think it would be genuine.”
Reid adjourned contempt proceedings until Tuesday, when he said he would pass a sentence on Nixon. “It seems to me inevitable that there will be a custodial sentence for this because of the nature of the contempt,” he said.
The jury returned to court and found the four protesters guilty.
Nixon was standing trial alongside Kai Bartlett, Alyson Lee and Christian Murray-Leslie. Reid said he would sentence them at a later hearing.