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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

Ex-easyJet pilot fined for blocking road outside Harrods in climate protest

Ex-easyJet pilot fined for blocking road outside Harrods in climate protest

A former easyJet pilot who sat in the road outside Harrods to cause traffic chaos told a court he left his job because he thought he was contributing to climate change.

George Hibberd, 29, was part of a group of about 20 Just Stop Oil (JSO) activists who protested outside the world famous store in Knightsbridge, London.

Some glued themselves to the road while others sprayed orange paint on the front of Harrods on 20 October last year. It marked the 20th consecutive day of action taken by JSO, which is calling on the government to halt all new oil and gas licences.

Hibberd, of Chichester, West Sussex, along with Paul Bleach, 55, of Portsmouth, Hampshire, John Blewett, 56, of Dorking, Surrey, Katharine Chesterman, 57, of Hythe, and Selma Heimedinger, 23, of Southesea, Hants, denied causing a public obstruction in Brompton Road. All were found guilty and fined.

Giving evidence, Hibberd told Westminster magistrates court he had left his dream job as a pilot because he felt frustrated about the airline’s unwillingness to tackle climate change. “I tried to change the industry from the inside. This put me in direct opposition with industry leaders and even union leaders. I had to decide whether to bury my head in the sand or to leave my childhood dream job. I chose the latter.”

Hibberd, who said he was later diagnosed with eco-anxiety, told the court: “We tried everything. We have been to parliament, we have written to our MPs. We were covered by almost every national news outlet.”

Asked how motorists had reacted to the disruption Hibberd said: “I maybe saw one or two people who were visibly angry.”

Heimedinger told the court: “I love animals and nature. I am studying veterinary nursing because I care deeply about animals and life. The action we took on Brompton Road was not violent. The protest was peaceful and orderly at all times.

“Two months before we took action 10 million were displaced by flooding in Pakistan. Traffic being blocked for 60 minutes is not comparable to that. Blocking traffic is entirely proportionate.”

The district judge, Daniel Sternberg, said: “The obstruction resulted in travel congestion. You were each spoken to by one police officer. You each decided to remain seated. The protest caused significant disruption.”

The court heard a truck delivering emergency equipment to Guy’s hospital was caught up in the congestion.

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“I am not satisfied that any of the defendants had a lawful excuse per se. This was plainly a breach of domestic law. The obstruction took place at a busy junction at the heart of central London. It was targeted to cause maximum disruption. It was not a temporary or transitory disruption.”

Hibberd, Bleach and Blewett were each fined £200 while Heimedinger and Chesterman were both fined £250.

Phillip Snider, 37, of Southampton, had earlier admitted obstruction and was handed a 12-month conditional discharge.

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