Just Stop Oil activists spared jail over Formula One protest
Six Just Stop Oil activists were given suspended sentences after the judge acknowledged the likelihood of that harm occurring had been "relatively modest".
Six climate activists from the "Just Stop Oil" group who were convicted last month for staging a racetrack protest during the 2022 British Grand Prix were spared from jail on Friday by a UK judge.
Five protesters temporarily invaded the Silverstone circuit in July of last year and were later found guilty of plotting to cause a public nuisance. The protesters were given community service or suspended prison sentences.
Judge Neil Garnham told the protesters that they had carelessly created a risk of death or "serious harm", but acknowledged the likelihood of that harm occurring had been "relatively modest".
The judge reportedly took into account the fact that all six defendants had abstained from crime since the incident before giving three of them suspended jail sentences and the others three-year-long community orders.
Garnham added that because the case included risk rather than inconvenience, it might be distinguished from a recent wave of other disruptive rallies by various climate activist groups.
"This was not trespass or obstruction of a highway or criminal damage -- to put it colloquially this was in a different league," the judge at Northampton Crown Court in central England said.
But he added, "I accept that the motive for all of you was not to cause harm but instead to voice your concerns about climate change."
The activists pleaded not guilty and tried to persuade the jury that the protest was secure because of its "meticulous" organization.
Just Stop Oil aims to stop the UK government from approving fossil fuel exploration, development, and production.
The group organized a flurry of demonstrations last year, including roadblocks and the tossing of tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" artwork.
Other groups, including "Extinction Rebellion" and "Insulate Britain" have held similar demonstrations.