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Just Stop Oil activist who brought M25 to a standstill says his decision has ‘ruined his life’ 

A Just Stop Oil activist who brought the M25 to a standstill last month by scaling a gantry over Junction 22 has admitted to a court that the stunt has ‘ruined his life’. 

Alfred Beswick, 26, of Hackney, London, helped close Britain’s busiest motorway to a halt during a series of climate protests by Just Stop Oil last month.

Beswick used ropes and a harness to climb above junction 22 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, on 8 November.

The action was part of an aggressive stint of action by the group which saw the motorway halted at rush hour for weeks on end.

An environmental protestor stands on a M25 gantry on November 10 as part of a weeks-long campaign to place pressure on the government over fossil fuels

This came after activists blocked roads in central London every single day during October, seeing hundreds of its activists arrested. 

It also saw criticism of local police forces who failed to prevent most of the disruption from taking place and arrested several journalists reporting from the scene.

A fellow activist who climbed a gantry during the action also appeared in court today

On November 8 Beswick was eventually returned to the ground by police and arrested at the scene.

He admitted causing a public nuisance at Southwark Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard he had written a letter in which he admitted the move, designed to put pressure on the UK government to move away from a reliance on fossil fuels, had ‘ruined his life’ and damaged his relationship.  

Judge Tony Baumgartner said: ‘He’s accepted that this has completely ruined his life. It’s really disrupted his relationship with his partner… his partner is at risk of losing rented premises.’

He has been in custody since his arrest and Nick Goss, defending, said he ‘is very anxious to get back to work.’

Judge Baumgartner accepted Beswick has shown ‘genuine remorse’ for his actions and said he hopes he had time to reflect on how his actions affect others around him.

A total of 700 arrests were made in the six weeks of action from the start of October into November

A total of 700 arrests were made in the six weeks of action from the start of October into November

Judge Baumgartner accepted Beswick has shown 'genuine remorse' for his actions and said he hopes he had time to reflect on how his actions affect others around him (Pictured: An activist is arrested on November 10)

Judge Baumgartner accepted Beswick has shown ‘genuine remorse’ for his actions and said he hopes he had time to reflect on how his actions affect others around him (Pictured: An activist is arrested on November 10)

Beswick was granted bail ahead of sentence on 18 January, on condition he does not leave the E5, E8 and N1 postcode areas and lives and sleeps each night at his home in Hackney.

A total of 700 arrests were made in the six weeks of action from the start of October into November. 

It came as Just Stop Oil protesters disrupted traffic on Whitechapel Road in central London today in protest of the decision to approve the first deep coalmine in Britain in 30 years.

At 9:15am, around 15 Just Stop Oil supporters wearing hi-vis vests walked onto Whitechapel Road, East London and proceeded to march slowly east and then west causing delays to rush hour traffic. The march continued on Commercial Road.

One of those in attendance was Sophie Holland, 51, a mum of three and NHS speech therapist from Bristol.

She said: ‘My concern for the future of everything has reached the point it seems reasonable, responsible even, to be in the streets demanding change.

‘I work with people with severe asthma and long Covid, who struggle to breathe. 

‘Air pollution will get worse, as will fires, floods, hunger. It is beyond contention. A liveable future is possible, but only if we stop new oil and gas. 

‘I’m terrified. I want my children to die of old age. What I can’t understand is why isn’t everyone on the streets, shouting for change?’ 

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: ‘The government has just ripped up any pretence of global climate leadership and signed the death warrant for millions of people and for what? 

‘Coal that no British company wants or needs, whose credentials rest on dangerous lies about jobs and carbon capture and storage.

‘Their toxic plans will lead to social collapse and the destruction of everything we hold dear. This cannot stand. We need everyone out on the streets now to take back what is rightfully ours: the chance of a liveable future.’

Beswick will be sentenced on January 18. 


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